Concerned over growing discontent among serving and retired armed forces personnel, highlighted by recent incidents of return of medals, burning of artificial limbs and fatricidal assaults, the Supreme Court on Wednesday suggested to the Centre to adopt Chanakyaniti.
“We feel that armed forces personnel have many grievances which are not being properly addressed by the Union government,” it said and suggested setting up of an independent commission headed by a retired judge to look into such complaints.
“Armed forces are disciplined, that is the reason why they do not protest or hold violent rallies. But they are returning medals in thousands and some have even burnt their artificial limbs in protest,” the Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and T S Thakur said.
It identified lack of grievance redressal mechanism as the key reason behind such unusual behaviour. So concerned was the Bench that it had come prepared to the court with a page downloaded from the internet, from Chanakya’s advice to Chandragupta, as king the king to take good care of the army since it was crucial for the security of his kingdom.
Handing over the page to attorney general G E Vahanvati and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, the Bench requested the top law officers to impress upon the government the need for setting up a forum headed by a retired SC judge whom the personnel could approach with their grievances.
Though Vahanvati and Subramaniam reassured the SC about the measures put in place for the purpose, the Bench observed that the issue could blow up if it was sought to be brushed under the carpet.
The order came on a writ petition filed by a dozen retired Army generals and colonels who were demanding their entitlement to rank pay under the Fourth Pay Commission. Arguing for the petitioners, advocate B B Trikha said almost 60-70,000 personnel in the defence forces were being deprived of this for over two decades. “We are not begging but claiming entitlement of our hard earned money when we served in the force,” Trikha said.
Subramaniam said the rank pay ranged from Rs 100-1,200 per month depending on the rank, but since the amount was claimed from the time of Fourth Pay Commission, its implementation had a serious implication on all ranks apart from the financial burden.
-via The Times of India.