Noida, Oct 1 (IANS): The Congress on Sunday slammed the Central government over the new disability pension of armed forces, terming it "another surgical strike" on defence forces which would impact their respect and morale.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress Ex-Servicemen Department Chairman Rohit Chaudhary said: "Modi government has made yet another surgical strike on Indian defence forces by bringing new disability pension of Indian defence forces which is one more step towards downgrading the respect and morale of our forces."
"We, the defence veterans, reject this new pension policy and ask the government to immediately withdraw the letter.
"The new disability pension rules signify a substantial shift in the armed forces’ compensation structure, aiming to address disparities but will create much more anomalies and reduction of disability elements of the pension, due to renaming and converting into an ex gratia relief to be given on monthly basis calling it as 'impairment relief' instead of 'disability pension', besides bringing it in the ambit of Income Tax regulations," he said.
The new rules will replace the old eligibility criteria and pension calculation method which will impact existing pensioners and have a long term effect on the morale of the serving soldiers who are fighting on the borders, who will think what will happen to them if they became disabled due to exigencies of services and what will they get from the government and nation when they retire at any future date.
"Worst is for the people who will be invalidated or boarded out as they will not get any disability pensionary benefits if their service is below 10 years," he added.
Chaudhary also said that it is also important to note that the stress and strain of military service can happen anywhere irrespective of the area of posting which has also been upheld by Supreme Court in their various judgments.
"But now, it has been purely linked to contracting it in certain adverse areas like high altitude etc. Moreover, life style diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks etc. have been delinked from the preconditions contracted during previous tenures in contagious areas," he said.
"I'm sorry to say that, who would like to serve the nation's defence forces under such uncongenial conditions. This situation is not good for our great country which faces hostile neighbours from all sides," he said.
He also said that approval by the Parliament is mandatory for passing such regulation for defence forces.
"The new pension policy rules have not been passed by the Parliament and hence, this policy is illegal and is untenable in the court of law," Choudhary alleged.
He also said that Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare under the Ministry of Defence has changed the name of the disability pension system of armed forces personnel and these rules have been titled as ‘Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023’, were released on September 21, replacing all earlier entitlement and eligibility norms.
"The disability pension was exempted from income tax. Now, by changing the name from disability pension to impairment relief, IT benefit will be automatically removed.
"This is the major cause of bringing this policy because Modi government wants to tax defence forces as much as possible. It is shameful that Modi government cannot spend Rs 4,000 crore on the disablement of their soldiers who have laid down their lives or have got disabled during their service," he added.