Disabled ex-servicemen pension issue: Govt relook

Disabled ex-servicemen pension issue: Govt relook

Agency News

New Delhi, Jun 27 : The Modi Government informed the Lok Sabha on Thursday that due to a hike, pension for disabled army personnel has come under the tax net and it would study the issue.

Armed forces personnel receive a separate disability pension, the amount of which varies depending on their rank and nature of injury.

The rule to grant tax exemption on disability pension only for those invalidated out of service due to the wound overlooks that most in the artillery or those who fly fighter planes suffer from hearing disabilities because of loud noise and spine problems due to 'G-Force' acting on the body when flying.

Government, in the current fiscal, has allocated over Rs 1 lakh crore for pension, which includes the One Rank One Pension scheme, to benefit nearly 25 lakh veterans.

Responding to Indian National Congress members today, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he will revert to the House after another appraisal of the issue.

Defence preparedness and the interests of soldiers, Mr Rajnath Singh affirmed, are 'paramount for us.'

The House of the People, earlier, witnessed heated protests against the recent Central Board of Direct Taxes June 24 circular.

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Choudhary attempted to broach the issue during Question Hour and then at the start of the Zero Hour.

Adjournment notice
Mr Choudhary said he had submitted a notice for an adjournment motion on tax rebate to disabled Indian armed forces personnel.

Speaker Om Birla said that first the new members would be given a chance to speak during the Zero Hour and then the Congress leader will be permitted to bring up the subject. This led to protests and members of the Congress entered the well of the House.

Intervening, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government respects the Army and it was 'our government which gave One Rank, One Pension.'

The Speaker asked the members to return to their seats and permitted Mr Choudhary to speak on the issue. Mr Choudhary said taxes were now being levied on pension received by Divyang ex-servicemen and the CBDT order should be withdrawn immediately.

The circular, without specifying the date from which it will come into effect, said that tax exemption for disability pension will be available only to armed forces personnel who have been invalidated from service on account of injury attributable to or aggravated by such service and not to personnel who have been retired on superannuation or otherwise.

In January 2019, the Defence Ministry had tweeted, “With approval from Smt @nsitharaman, it has been decided that the disability/war injury pension, special family pension and liberalised family pension shall be minimum Rs 18,000 per month for Defence Forces pensioners/family pensioners, with effect from 1/1/2016.”

A slab-based disability pension suggested by the Seventh Pay Commission in September last year had evoked widespread criticism.

MoD reference
MoD had referred the matter to the Anomaly Committee and suggested the minimum monthly Rs 18,000 pension amount.

Under the current rules, a colonel-rank officer retiring after full service would get a pension of about Rs 1,02,000 per month.

As of October 2018, thousands of cases concerning disability pensions of ex-servicemen remained pending in different courts.

Even the Supreme Court had earlier this year expressed anguish over the bureaucratic psyche of the Ministry of Defence.

The Seventh Central Pay Commission had questioned the jump in disability pension cases, especially in the senior ranks, after its predecessor had substantially hiked the payout for them. (UNI)