A former commander-in-chief general officer of Western Command, Lt. Gen. Surinder Singh (retired), has advocated the withdrawal of the income tax exemption for disability pension recipients, claiming that all Army commanders, of which he was a part at the time, had been of the unanimous opinion that some tough measures were needed to stem the growing number of disability claims in the military.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Lt. Gen. Surinder Singh, who retired in July 2019 and currently serves as chairman of the Punjab Civil Service Commission, said there was consensus among army commanders and training commanders on the fact that urgent measures had to be taken to stop the rush to get a disability pension because of the tax benefits attached to it.
The issue has been a hot topic of discussion in military circles, especially after many disabled retirees received a meager sum of Rs 100 or less as a pension for the month of February, after the State Bank of India deducted l income tax with arrears.
This was done after the chief defense auditor (pensions) issued a circular on February 20 for “necessary measures” on the government decrees of July 2019 regarding the withdrawal of the tax exemption on the income on pensions of disabled retirees who had retired and had not been disabled by reason of disability.
âIt would be wrong to blame a single individual as is done in many forums for this decision. The issue has been raised at more than one conference of army commanders and has been the subject of extensive deliberation. There was dissatisfaction among able-bodied officers in the army who saw that some officers claimed disability pension on various pretexts when they were fit for many adventure activities. Letters were written to the army commanders, I also received them and the Army Chief of Staff also received these letters where the officers questioned the rationale for staying fit â , said Lt. Gen. Surinder Singh.
The former army commander also took to Twitter to amplify his point. He wrote a series of tweets the first of which read: “The withdrawal of income tax relief from soldiers who have retired with a disability pension is a correct measure by the military to verify l Uncontrolled attraction of disability by military personnel, which makes a significant part of unfit for war. â.
He then tweeted: âThose affected will make an emotional problem out of this. For every disability pensioner asking for a rollback, there are three more supporting the movement. The policy had the full support of all army commanders. Operational losses will always be borne by the army in several ways â.
Finally, he wrote: âArmy personnel who shout for joy must first make full disclosure if they are claiming a disability pension before opposing the military. This question was largely decided by the military. Certain measures had to be taken â.
The general told The Indian Express that disability pension data that had been passed to army commanders showed that the availability of personnel in units would be severely affected if urgent action was not taken.
âI know my remarks will get a lot of screaming, but someone has to set the state record. It was so bad that we had to court martial a general for falsely claiming disability benefits, âhe said.
MOD says there is no computer recovery to perform
Taking into account the computer withdrawals made in pensions for the month of February 2019, the pensions wing of the Ministry of Defense (Finance) wrote to the Controller General of Defense Accounts (Pensions) that the PCDA of pensions can be invited to issue a circular to the bodies paying pensions not to collect income tax on disability pensions. The Defense Ministry leadership refers to a dispute over the pending Supreme Court issue in which the Supreme Court ordered in its Aug. 30 order that the status quo should be maintained by all parties. The Ministry of Defense order further stipulates that no recovery should be made until a final decision is made by the Supreme Court.