The Supreme Court has slammed the government for treating army personnel

The Supreme Court has slammed the government for treating army personnel “bravely defending the country even at the cost of their lives” shabbily and upheld a higher disability pension to an officer who lost his hand in the Siachen.

“This is a pittance (Rs 1,000 a month, plus dearness allowance). If this is the manner in which the army personnel are treated, it is extremely unfortunate…. We regret to say army officers and armymen in our country are being treated in a shabby manner by the government,” Justices Markandey Katju and A.K. Patnaik said.

The government had appealed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order giving C.S. Sidhua higher pension.

The apex court found no reason to interfere with the order. Instead, it was scathing in its criticism of the government for trying to justify such a meagre disability pension. “If a person goes to any part of Delhi and sits for begging, he will earn Rs 1,000 every day and you are offering a pittance of Rs 1,000 per month for a man who fought for the country in the high altitudes and whose arm was amputated?” the two-judge bench said.
Sidhu had joined as a short-service commission officer on June 22, 1968. On November 21, 1970, he met with an accident in the Siachen after which his right arm had to be amputated. He also suffered a compound fracture of the femur (thigh bone) and fracture of the mandible (jaw bone). He was released from service on June 23, 1978.

The army authorities insisted on taking into account the period from June 22, 1968, to November 21, 1970, to calculate his pension. But the high court said the entire commissioned service, from June 22, 1968, to June 23, 1978, should be counted and ordered the authorities to pay the disability pension and other benefits accordingly.
The apex court, upholding the high court order, asked the authorities to clear the arrears within three months, along with interest at the rate of 8 per cent annually. “Army personnel should be treated in a better and more humane manner by the government authorities, particularly, in respect of their emoluments, pension and other benefits,” the bench said.

At yesterday’s hearing, the government was represented by an additional solicitor-general. Sidhu was not present, but the apex court dismissed the government’s appeal without waiting for the officer to place his version.

“… We are in full agreement with the high court that for the purpose of qualifying service for disability pension, the entire period of commissioned service rendered by the respondent has to be taken into account,” it said.