The defence ministry has constituted a five-member committee of experts to look into grievances related to service matters/pensions and initiate measures to minimise litigation and disputes in courts. The committee will also recommend broad institutional changes to mechanisms for redressing grievances. It will also holistically examine resolution of issues which have led to a massive backlog of litigations.
Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer Maj Navdeep Singh and Kargil War amputee Maj DP Singh are part of the committee. Former adjutant general Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, former military secretary Lt Gen Richard Khare and a former judge advocate general are likely to be inducted into the panel.
Maj Navdeep Singh is a known lawyer on legal matters related to defence services and has been a decorated reservist-volunteer with the Territorial Army. A supporter of soldiers’ disability rights, he is associated with many landmark rulings concerning soldiers and veterans. He is a member of the International Society for Military Law at Brussels and has been an invitee of the Yale University for discussions on military law.
Maj DP Singh is a Kargil War survivor who at one point of time in July 1999 had been declared dead by the doctors.
He is an inspirational figure and the first Indian amputee marathon runner.
He is a triple Limca record holder and runs an NGO — ‘The Challenging Ones’.
The formation of the committee has come in the wake of defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s statements expressing his intention of reducing litigation involving the ministry.
In December 2014, public figures from all walks of life had written to the Prime Minister and the defence minister, saying the ministry must be sensitive to the requirements of soldiers, disabled veterans, and military widows.
The letter stated that most pending appeals pertaining to the ministry in the Supreme Court were against the disability benefits that the courts and tribunals have awarded to disabled soldiers.
The letter was signed by personalities such as parliamentarian Rajeev Chandrasekhar; actor Kabir Bedi; war hero brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (retd); former navy chief admiral Arun Prakash; playback singer Chinmayi Sripada; former army vice-chief lieutenant general Pattabhiraman; journalists Sucheta Dalal and Nitin Gokhale.