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Defence Ministry approves measures to address veterans’ grievances

In an effort to reduce pendency of grievances in the services, the Ministry of Defence has mandated that grievances redressal officers will respond to all complaints filed by veterans, disabled soldiers and widows within a stipulated time.

The recommendations were made by a six-member expert committee constituted by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for the review of service and pension matters. The committee had recommended that a mandatory response must be provided by the record offices to all representations and letters within 30 days and senior officers must be designated as grievance officer/ Public Grievance Officer who could be contacted in the event of a lack of response.

“This particular proposal mentioned in Paragraph 7.4 was accorded in-principle approval by Mr. Parrikar. Now the implementation instructions have to be worked out after finalising the modalities,” official sources told The Hindu on Tuesday. This was confirmed by a member on the committee.

The timeline of 30 days or more would be fixed in consultation with the Controller General Defence Accounts (CGDA) and Service headquarters.

“In all, there were 75 recommendations by the committee, out of which 34 stand accepted. The rest are under consultation with other ministries because they involve departments outside the Defence Ministry,” the source said.

The problem right now was that there was no response despite repeated requests, which led to discontent among the officers, veterans and widows, the committee observed in its report. There were many cases where the Record Offices did not care to respond to queries or letters from veterans and families until there was “intervention of senior officers or higher headquarters or the veterans cells.”

The report stated that according to the estimates provided to the committee, a total of 16138 cases related to the uniformed services (Army 14411, Navy 437, Air Force 1241, Coast Guard 49) were pending before various Courts and Tribunals in the country.

The cases involving civilian employees were in addition to the above.

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