The Central Information Commission (CIC) passed an order advising the Defence Secretary to re-examine issues relating to Liberalized Family Pension for the Next of Kin (NoK) of deceased Defence Personnel to put in place a robust mechanism for the benefit of all concerned.
In an order dated 23 February 2018, the CIC observed that there is a perceptible lack of clarity in the various circulars/orders issued by the Defence Ministry from time to time in respect of pensionary benefits in the event of death or disability of personnel.
The commission in the order said, “The amendments/modifications carried out by the Government from time to time have also led to the confusion that needs to be addressed forthwith. The areas of Special Family Pension, Liberalized Family Pension and the procedures adopted by the CGDA in settling the entitlements in each of these cases need to be comprehensively captured in a consolidated form for the benefit, ease and convenience of the affected defence services personnel.”
Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, in the landmark order highlighted that respondents during several hearings admitted that there was a dire need to revisit the policies and procedures with regard to the matters related to settlement of pensionary benefits of the NoKs of the deceased Defence Personnel.
The order further said that the amendments and modifications carried out by the Government from time to time have also led to the confusion that needs to be addressed forthwith.
The CIC order specially noted in the on-the-record that complainant had filed approximately 79 Appeals and complaints relating to the policy and procedures adopted by the Ministry of Defence in granting Liberalized Family Pension to the next of kin (NoK) of the deceased Army Personnel.
The CIC order came in response to a complaint filed by Nityanand Das of PAR Plant Animal Relationship Division, Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI), Jhansi.
The order also observed, “The guidelines for implementation also need to be more specific for easy understanding of the NoK of the Armed Forces Personnel so as to obviate the necessity of such applicants to file RTI applications to seek clarifications and information on their entitlements.”
In its decision, the CIC has emphasised that keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties (the petitioners and respondents) and in the light of the decision of the Commission and its compliance reported by the respondent, no further intervention is required in the matter.