Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
Outlook.com

Defence Accounts Dept Tells Indian Army Jawan's Mother To Show His Body To Get Pensionary Benefits

Rifleman Rinku Ram of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, slipped and fell into raging waters of a river while patrolling in a terrain on Line of Actual Control with China

Representative image/PTI

In November 2009, rifleman Rinku Ram of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, slipped and fell into raging waters of a river while patrolling in a terrain on Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The area is such that it’s almost impossible to retrieve bodies. The body of Ram too couldn’t be recovered. 
Nine years on, his parents are still running pillars to posts to get their son’s pensionary benefits released. The Indian Express reported that the mother of the dead soldier from Himachal Pradesh has approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) after the defence accounts department, under the government of India, has told her that the pensionary benefits would not be released till his body was found.
The order came despite the fact that the soldier was duly declared a “battle casualty” by the military and executive authorities, since as per rules, deaths due to drowning, avalanches, floods etc in operational areas are treated as battle casualties. The army also issued a death certificate.
But interestingly, the accounts office said since he was merely “missing” and not “dead” and that pension will not be granted, added the newspaper.
Ram's parents had been approaching authorities for ex-gratia benefits and pension since 2009.
Kamla Devi filed the petition in the Chandigarh Bench of the AFT that comprised Justice MS Chauhan and Lt Gen Munish Sibal, who have issued a notice of motion.
The counsel handling the case said that the demands of the accounts officers were unacceptable. "It is as if they would prefer that the family first jump into the river that flows into China and retrieve the body as proof to get the dues," The Times of India quoted the counsel as saying. 
“There are numerous cases that are rejected by Defence Accounts Department due to a hyper-technical and negative interpretation of beneficial rules even after being sanctioned by executive authorities and being covered by judicial dicta,” a lawyer who is familiar with such matters told The Indian Express.
Last year, the Centre informed Rajya Sabha that between 2014 and 2016, 58 soldiers died in natural calamities. The government did not say if avalanches killed the soldiers but told the house that soldiers inducted into high altitude regions were given adequate training in mountain craft, ice craft and survival in glaciated terrain to cope with any eventuality like avalanches, reported IANS.
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