Retired Army officer Lt Col Niraj Bakshi on Wednesday sent a legal notice to former adjutant general of the Indian Army Ashwani Kumar over his “disparaging” remarks about disability pensioners. The legal notice states that the remarks made by General Kumar, who superannuated on October 31, give an impression as if disabled soldiers “beg or ask” for disability pension when the real position is that the government itself rightly grants it to them.
Armed forces personnel get separate pension if they suffer any kind of disability in the line of duty. The amount depends on their rank and the kind of disability. Bakshi’s lawyer Pradeep Kumar said the former adjutant general of the Army made the comments in an interview to a news channel.
“In your interview you disparagingly spoke about disability pensioners of the Army and persons with disabilities conveying as if many such pensioners do not deserve disability benefits.
“You even spoke disparagingly about hypertension as if it is not even a medical condition and also underlined that there should be incentive for those people who retire in shape from the Army and not to those who retire in low medical category, as if any medical condition, disability, disease, disorder or injury is in a person’s own hands,” the notice said.
General Kumar, in an interaction with reporters last week, had said the Army has written to the Union Defence Ministry to cap the income tax exemptions on disability pension. In the backdrop of several senior officers claiming disability pension towards the end of their superannuation, General Kumar said now all officers of the rank of Brigadier should get their medical tests done at the command hospitals.
The legal notice said the tax exemption controversy for disability pensioners is already being looked into by the defence minister and is also sub judice.
In July, the Army had said broad-banding and compensation awarded for disability with income tax exemption had over the years has led to a rise in personnel seeking disability pension, even for lifestyle diseases and the trend is worrisome. The adjutant general’s branch is responsible for welfare of Army personnel at all levels and also deals with different types of complaints against them.