Hyderabad: The Central government has spent Rs 106.91 crore between 2014 and 2017 as lawyers’ fees to fight cases against disabled veterans, with regard to pensions and compensation claims. An internal verbal settlement between the defence and the veterans could have saved the legal fee, was one of the suggestions discussed in Parliament.
These are long- pending unsolved cases hanging in the courts since the UPA regime.
A classic example to explain how these cases run for years incurring expenditure to both parties, the veterans and the government, who pay for the legal fee, is the case of veteran M. Sampath from Mutfort, Hyderabad.
Sampath was injured in a motor vehicle accident in an operation area during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Following the incident, he insisted that his case should be considered as ‘battle casualty’ and not a ‘battle accident’.
In 2014, he filed a case in the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Chennai, to change the classification, but the case was kept pending till 2017. It should be noted that as a battle casualty, he would draw a higher pension.
In 2017, the tribunal in Chennai passed a judgment in favour of the veteran based on the letter issued by the then Deputy Chief of the Army Staff to consider Mr Sampath as a ‘battle casualty’ and give him the appropriate pension.
Sampath and his family thought they had won the case.
“The tribunal changed the classification but did not allocate any monetary help which means I continue to get the same pension of a ‘battle accident’ veteran,” Mr Sampath said “The whole reason behind fighting the case in the AFT was to get the pension of battle casualty (a higher amount). When we approached the bank for a revised pension, it was revealed that no such orders were passed by the Allahabad pensioners office to the bank, also a certain amount was deducted from my pension. Never heard of the Army cutting money from pension. Our entire effort to fight the case, despite having concrete evidence has gone in vain. We have again approached the AFT and the case is slated for hearing on November 12,” said the veteran.