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Supreme Court says indiscipline in armed forced to be viewed seriously

New Delhi: Indiscipline on part of security force personnel must be “viewed seriously” and deserting work by disobeying orders of superior officers is an act of “gross misconduct”, the Supreme Court has ruled. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also said that past conduct of a delinquent employee can be taken into consideration while imposing a penalty on him.

The court’s remarks came as it dealt with a plea filed by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) against the Delhi High Court’s August 2014 judgement directing reinstatement of a constable, Abrar Ali, who was dismissed from service due to his alleged acts of indiscipline and misconduct.

In its verdict, the apex court held that though Ali was found guilty of deserting the force for a period of five days and not improving his conduct in spite of penalties imposed on him on three earlier occasions, the penalty of dismissal from service is “excessive and harsh” and “in our view, the penalty of compulsory retirement would meet the ends of justice”.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The bench, which also comprised Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said “indiscipline on the part of a member of an armed force has to be viewed seriously. It is clear that the respondent (Ali) had intentionally disobeyed the orders of his superiors and deserted the force for a period of 5 days. Such desertion is an act of gross misconduct and the respondent deserves to be punished suitably.”

The bench directed that Ali shall be entitled for notional continuity of service till the date of completion of minimum service required to make him eligible for pension but he will not be entitled for payment of salary and allowances for that period.

Ali was appointed as a constable in CISF in September 1990 and in October 1999, an inquiry was proposed against him under the CISF Rules for allegations of misconduct and misbehavior. According to the charges, he was posted at CISF unit in Dhanbad when he had disobeyed the orders of his seniors and was habitual of committing indiscipline.

In November 2000, Commandant of CISF unit in Dhanbad held him guilty of all the charges levelled against him and he was ordered to be dismissed from service.

Ali then filed an appeal to the Deputy Inspector General of CISF. While he was exonerated of the charges of maligning the image of the force, his appeal was rejected in 2001.

After his revision plea against the order was dismissed by the Inspector General of CISF, Ali had approached the Delhi High Court which allowed his plea and asked CISF to reinstate him as constable with notional seniority in his rank.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 14:11 IST

Mamata flays Manohar Parrikar for ‘wild allegations’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The allegations made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee against the Indian Army “run the risk of impacting the morale of the force,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in a letter to Banerjee on December 8, expressed his displeasure over the controversy triggered by her regarding the deployment of the Army near her office.”Political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other, but one needs to be extremely careful when referring to the Armed Forces,” Parrikar said in the letter.Parrikar said he did not expect this from a “person of her standing and experience.””As the Defence Minister, I thought it appropriate and necessary to bring to your notice the feeling of our armed forces and the people at large for your consideration.”Mamata Banerjee, who is not one to take things lying down, said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis the Army’s deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the Armed Forces.””Your general observations that political parties and politicians have the luxury of making unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply.The Chief Minister also said the defence ministry has not taken prior permission from the state government before deploying Army personnel in civilian areas.The letter was written in response to allegations made by Mamata on December 1 raising doubts about Army deployment at a toll plaza near the Chief Minister’s secretariat in Kolkata.The state government has also alleged that the Army was denied pernmission to carry out any exercise.

If Pakistan fires once, we fire twice at them: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said India did not seek war, but would “gouge out eyes” of the enemy if provoked.”We don’t itch for a fight, but if someone looks at the country with evil eye, we will gouge his eyes out and put them back in his hand, we have that much power,” he said while addressing a rally in Aldona Assembly constituency in Goa. Goans can tell the world that they had sent a man to the Centre who had slapped the enemy across the face, he said.”There was no firing on the border for the last three days because if they (Pakistan) fire once, we fire twice at them. We are giving tit-for-tat response, and when they realised it, they approached us, seeking to stop it,” Parrikar said in an apparent reference to the request by Pakistan for DGMO-level talks three days ago.Asserting that, Armed Forces were fully prepared, Parrikar said his mother had taught him that “even if you are going to hunt a rabbit, be prepared to kill a tiger”.

India’s use of ‘heavy weaponry’ along LoC threatens ‘peace and stability’: Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan briefed Head of Missions of P5 countries on the alleged Indian aggression on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary, saying the use of “heavy weaponry” by the Indian Army threatens peace and stability and may lead to a “strategic miscalculation”. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry provided details to the ambassadors of China, France, Russian, UK and USA, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, about unprovoked firing and ceasefire violations by the “Indian occupation Forces” in the past two months, the Foreign Office (FO) said. Chaudhry expressed grave concern over the increased frequency and duration of indiscriminate firing from the Indian side, deliberate targeting of villages and civilian populated areas, resulting in the death of 26 civilians and injuring 107 others, said FO. The Foreign Secretary also alleged that the Indian side was resorting to such heavy weaponry use after a gap of 13 years. “Pakistan has been compelled to respond but with maximum restraint. The Armed Forces of Pakistan gave a befitting response,” FO quoted Chaudhry as saying. He expressed apprehension that Indian actions, which constituted a threat for the maintenance of peace and security, may lead to a “strategic miscalculation”. He said India was also not cooperating with the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOGIP). The Heads of Missions assured that they would convey Pakistan’s concern to their respective capitals, the FO statement said.

No down-gradation of military-civilian ranks: Defence Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence Ministry on Thursday said there has been no down-gradation or any change in the existing equivalence of the Service ranks vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. There have been reports in the media claiming that the government has issued a new order lowering the status of military officers with respect to their civilian counterparts in the Armed Forces Headquarters.These reports, quoting a letter dated October 18, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Defence, “are erroneously stating that the equivalence has been disturbed and status of Service officers has been downgraded”, a statement by the Defence Ministry said. It is clarified that there has been no down-gradation or any change in the existing equivalence of the Service ranks whatsoever, it said.The existing functional equivalence as clarified in 1991 and further reiterated in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2005 has only been re-affirmed. It is further clarified that the present reiteration of rank equivalence, is only for matters of assigning duties and functional responsibilities as is already existing in different offices of the respective Service HQrs of the Army, Navy and Air Force having component of Service personnel as well as civilian officers.”It has no bearing on civilian employees outside these offices of the Service HQrs. It is reiterated that there is no change in the rank structure or the status of the Armed Forces personnel,” the Ministry said.

Defence Ministry will rectify discrepancies in ranks of armed forces personnel: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said the ministry would check if ranks of armed forces personnel have changed vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, and any discrepancies would be rectified in a week.

A circular issued by the Defence Ministry, dated 18 October, on rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ), and civil service officers brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to earlier status.

File image of union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

According to the circular, a Major General in the army and equivalent – which will be Rear Admiral in the navy and Air Vice Marshal in the air force – will be equal to a principal director in the civil service ranks at AFHQ.

A Brigadier in the army, and equivalents – Commodore in the navy and Air Commodore in the air force – will be equal to a director, and a Colonel in the Army – Captain in the navy and Group Captain in the air force – will be equal to a joint director in the civil service.

Earlier, a Colonel was equated with a director, Brigadier was treated at par with a deputy director-general, and a Major General was treated as equivalent of a joint secretary.

Parrikar, however, said that the classifications do not reflect the status, but are related to “functional responsibilities”, and added that it is being studied.

The minister also said if any discrepancy is found, it will be removed in a week.

“If there are any discrepancies, we will get them corrected in a week,” Parrikar said.

“Those (classifications) are only for functional responsibilities… These are not status..,” he said when asked about the circular bringing armed forces ranks down as compared to civilian employees.

Parrikar said he has sought details about the letter and also older letters referring to the subject issued in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

“I have already asked for exact status… I have asked them to give me all those orders… I will see if I find any reduction in functional responsibility,” he said.

The minister also said that some lacuna may always appear as the ministry is dealing with a large number of serving and retired servicemen, and added that the intent of the government should be noted.

“What should be taken note of is whether the government is ready to act quickly or not… For example, when 7th Pay (Commission) order was issued, there was one such comparison, a small paragraph, when brought to my notice we got it removed,” he said.

“That means government is very sensitive. When you are handling 25 lakh pensioners and 20 lakh armed forces, there are certain areas of lacuna and difficulties created, this government is very sensitive to such issues.”

Parrikar said, “The moment they are brought out I have acted on them. Difficulties, when they become public discussion, I cannot be a party to the discussion.”

PM Modi urges citizens to send their messages to jawans this Diwali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid heightened tension on the border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a campaign through which people can send their Diwali greetings and messages to soldiers guarding the nation’s frontiers to boost their morale.People can send messages under the #Sandesh2Soldiers campaign on the Narendra Modi App, through MyGov.in, and also through All India Radio. Doordarshan shall also be mounting a programme to share people’s emotions with the Armed Forces.The Prime Minister, who is leading the campaign, said in a tweet, “I sent my #Sandesh2Soldiers. You could also do the same. Your wishes will certainly make our forces very happy.””This Diwali, let us remember our courageous armed forces who constantly protect our Nation. Jai Hind,” he said.”When 1.25 crore people stand with the soldiers, their power increases by 1.25 crore times,” the Prime Minister said.As part of the campaign, the Prime Minister has shared through social media, a special video, featuring his appeal to the people to send messages to the brave Armed Forces personnel.Within hours, the video has generated tremendous interest on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.The great respect and admiration that the nation has for our Armed Forces, will find expression this festive season, through the campaign being led by the Prime Minister, the PMO said in a release.A special module has been launched on the Narendra Modi App, which enables people to send greetings or their hand-written messages to the Armed Forces.The #Sandesh2Soldiers campaign is expected to generate increased interaction between the people and the Armed Forces.The campaign comes against the backdrop of the surgical strikes carried out by the Army on terror launch pads in PoK and the heightened border tension.Earlier this month, at an event in Bhopal, the Prime Minister had focused on the human element of the jawans. His appeal to people to applaud jawans when they meet them, has also created a buzz on social media.This is not the first time that Modi is focusing on the armed forces. He spent his last two Diwalis as the Prime Minister with the Army.

Surgical strikes| Jaishankar’s remarks exposed Modi govt’s ‘lie’; hope he will not get ‘axed’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Wednesday latched on to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks that the Army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter- terrorist operations” across LoC in the past too, to “expose” the BJP and Modi government’s “lie” on the recent surgical strikes.The party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala hoped that Jaishanker would not get “axed” like his predecessor Sujatha Singh for “speaking the truth” and “expose BJP’s deception”.”Modi Govt’s rhetoric, bravado and machismo’s exposed by FS, Jaishankar. Amit Shah’s and Parrikar’s lies lie exposed.””Hope FS Jaishankar won’t get axed like Sujatha Singh for speaking the truth qua valour of Armed Forces and exposing BJP’s deception,” Surjewala tweeted.His tweets came a day after a Parliamentary panel was told that the Army had carried out “target specific, limited- calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too, but this is for the first time the government has gone public about it.The information given by Jaishankar to the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs appears to contradict Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s claim. Sources said Jaishankar made the remarks when specifically asked by MPs whether surgical strikes have been carried out in the past.”Professionally done, target-specific, limited-calibre counter-terrorist operations have been carried out across the LoC in the past too, but this is for the first time that the government has made it public,” Jaishankar had been quoted as saying by unnamed sources present in the meeting.The top diplomat’s comments assume significance in the context of remarks by Parrikar last week rejecting Congress’ claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA government too.Parrikar had asserted that it was the first time that surgical strikes had taken place in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack and what was undertaken previously were operations locally executed by commanders without involving the government.

Irom Sharmila launches political party, calls it People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irom Sharmila launched her party in Imphal on Tuesday and named it People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance. Sharmila had been on a hunger strike for 16 years, demanding a repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Manipur and was force-fed during this period. She ended her fast on August 9, 2016. At the time, she had told reporters that after being released that she would launch her political party to contest the Manipur Assembly election due early next year. Sharmila had declared in August that she wanted to become the state CM so that she could repeal the contentious AFSPA.

Surgical strikes may earn Modi govt public goodwill, but soldier still denied his dues

Surgical strikes have become the flavor of the season with news, discussions and debates continuing endlessly. It is amusing to watch media Napoleons working vigorously reconstructing the scene on models of the areas of PoK where the 28 September strikes took place, adding personal embellishments — some even hilariously amusing — about how the Special Forces went in, executing high altitude, high opening (HAHO) combat military technique. It is unclear whether they confused HAHO with Naga Ho Ho, and dreamed of themselves in Pentagon’s operations room the previous night or they were simply shocked by Pierce Brosnan endorsing Pan Bahar. But, they did manage to get some not so junior veterans to nod their heads in unison. Certainly not beyond them to next describe that the special forces commandos actually tunneled underground all the way to envelop the terrorist launch pads.

This followed a report that we had also launched surgical strikes in cyberspace — Indian hackers singed the Pakistan government network and locked their computers in the wake of Pakistani hackers defacing Indian sites, and Pakistani hackers reportedly offering to pay our hackers with Bitcoins in order to have their systems unlocked.

Of course this did not start any war in the political area for there were no claims – only an unverified report, no calls for giving proof and certainly no Ghulam Akbar, SP of Mirpur spilling the beans from across the border. On the contrary, the Bitcoins bit may have cocked the years of the enterprising ones; wondering what this hitherto unheard currency is about, what technological find it is, how they can add it to their personal stash and whether it would be categorized black or white money.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

But then, there is this third surgical strike which has been executed with such finesse that no one knows who held the scalpel and who the surgeons are, while the media is busy with the din of the other types of surgical operations. On 30 September 2016, MoD has issued the notification for grant of pensionary awards based on the recommendations of the 7th CPC. This notification very regressively has reduced the amount of disability benefits admissible to disability pensioners relegating the rates to the ‘slab system’ as was prevalent prior to the 6th CPC thereby placing defence disability pensioners at a sharp disadvantage as compared to civil disability pensioners. Would it surprise the public that under this notification, even if a military officer of three star rank is disabled completely (read 100 percent) in combat, he will get a ‘disability pension’ of Rs 27,000 whereas if a secretary level officer of the government becomes 100 percent disabled whether having fallen off his balcony or for any other reason, he will get ‘disability pension’ of Rs 67,500.

With respect to the above vastly differing ‘disability pension’ mentioned above, the difference before the issue of this notification was zero. When the government has not promulgated the ‘allowances’ part of 7th CPC till the anomalies are addressed post representations by the military, why have such grave anomalies in disability pension been promulgated? The fact that this unjustifiable notification was issued just two days after the military executed the surgical strikes in POK hurts even more. The question now is whether the bureaucracy has managed to undercut the Modi Government or is this with connivance of the polity. Would the defence minister go beyond theatrics claiming: “I made the Army realize their power”, and explain why this injustice is heaped upon the Armed Forces – is this a gift for the surgical strikes? The 7th CPC apparently is the unfinished grand design of the politico-bureaucratic nexus to completely degrade and demoralise the Armed Forces. It has brought Armed Forces below other government employees including IAS, central armed police forces, police, even the civilian defence employees, with latter consuming large share of the defence pension budget despite their small numbers.

The public would also be unaware the manner in which Armed Forces have been/are being dealt with by all governments. By now, it must be common knowledge that after the liberation of Bangladesh and Indian Armed forces having taken 93,000 Pakistani military prisoners (largest after World war II), a hard blow was inflicted on the Armed Forces arbitrarily by the 3rd CPC wherein pension of soldiers was reduced from 70 percent to 50 percent of last pay drawn. But how many would know that Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi who lost a leg in battle as a young officer and later became the Vice Chief of Army Staff, had to fight a seven year legal battle to get his disability pension after superannuating from service. So what do you expect soldiers would have to undergo if this is happening to a Vice Chief level officer. And don’t think this happens only during Congress rule. Based on a petition filed by a military veteran that the Government constituted Anomalies Committees to look into 7th CPC recommendations is not granting any opportunity to hear or interact with official defence establishment and even the Standing Committee on Welfare of Ex-servicemen which was ordered to hold meetings every three months by none less than the Defence Minister has not even held a single meeting thereby undermining political authority by lower officials, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice to the Central Government, also directing that in the meantime the Anomaly Committee shall take into account the views on anomalies affecting defence personnel.

Government may take the surgical strikes in POK to the public for vote-bank politicking for undoubtedly this was a bold decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But till the surgical strikes against the ethos and honour of the Armed Forces continue and the soldier is denigrated and denied his due, our enemy’s hybrid warfare of making India hollow from within will keep succeeding. Both the MoD and MoF appear to be playing to the advantage of our enemies – loved by the latter. The question is have the Prime Minister and the NSA being an Army officer’s son taken note, and more importantly would this be rectified?

The author is veteran Lt. General of the Indian Army. 

Uri aftermath: Delhi Police reviews security of VIPs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the aftermath of the Uri attack and intelligence inputs of a terror threat to the national capital, Delhi Police is carrying out a review of the security measures in place for VIPs. The security audit involves plugging loopholes, if any, in the current security cover being provided to the protectees, mock drills and regular briefings of officers.”Currently, we have finished the security audit of Z+ and Z protectees. We have initiated the security audit of Y and X protectees and this will be finished by next week,” said a senior police officer.Depending on the threat perception to the person, the category is divided into four tiers: Z+ (highest level), Z, Y and X. Individuals under the security blanket include the President, Vice-President, Prime-Minister, Supreme Court & High Court Judges and service chiefs of Armed Forces.Senior officers say security audits are usually carried out before August 15 and January 26 but after the Uri attacks and the current festive season which means more public visits for the dignitaries, it was thought necessary to review the arrangements. “It is essential for officers in the security wing to be alert at all times. They undergo drills at regular intervals but during a time like this, the frequency and intensity of drills is high,” said the officer.Situational firing practice and briefings about how terrorists might be plotting the attack are key features of these audits. “For instance, they are made to do firing practice at regular intervals. But in a time like this, we test whether they will be able to handle a real-time situation in case an attack happens. Anybody can shoot at a dummy target but it is essential that they are trained to shoot at real targets. So we create a situation where there are four armed people who are coming to attack and we test the response time and instinctive abilities of the personnel,” said the officer.Apart from these drills, there are also sessions where the security officers are briefed about the terror attack that happened and the way it was carried out. “It’s important for the officers to know the threat perception and the ways an attack might be planned. After the Uri attack, we have been briefing our officers about the possible ways in which terrorists can strike and what should their response be in case an emergency situation arises,” said the officer.

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