Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Law ministry asks defence ministry to get its act right and not to keep bothering AG Vahanvati over Rank Pay issue
The constant to and fro of the files pertaining to the Rank Pay case involving veterans has certainly irked the community. However it now seems that the country's top law officer is being made to face the red-tapism, something he is not taking very lightly to.
It has been reliably learnt that while dealing with the Statements of Case (SOC) on this issue from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in a meeting with the Law Ministry, it, as conveyed to the Legal Adviser (Defence) that the ministry should not keep bothering the AG with queries of same/similar nature. Not just that, with this blow, the MoD had no option but to retreat on this and take the SOCs back. Reliable sources say the MoD has to now re-work its SOCs.
Not only will it further delay the case but also add another layer of bureaucratic procedure before the AG's office can be approached. This, it is learnt, was conveyed to LA (Defence) in a meeting on October 28, 2013 which he conveyed to Joint Secretary (Establishment) MoD on October 31. With that move, the SOCs of service headquarters as well as MoD were returned by the AG's office and Law Ministry towards 'framing questions of law pertaining to the case.'
There have been multiple SOCs which have been sent to the AG already on which he had given his opinion in the month of September 2013. However, since AG had replied on an old SOC sent to him by MoD, service headquarters objected to it. Subsequently, when services sent it to him, SOCs were returned as proper protocol had not been followed. The lack of coordination can be gauged by the fact that while the SOC was returned by AG, MoD was about to begin implementing AG's version to which services objected to Antony. It was only after all this that Antony wanted SOCs to go together, a move which has now been stalled.
In June this year, the Defence Minister AK Antony had made it clear that the final word on the implementation of the SC order of September 2012 will rest with the AG who had to interpret the apex court's order correctly. There was a wide disparity between how the armed forces had construed the SC judgment and how the MoD's civilian bureaucracy was implementing the same. It was for this reason that Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne as the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee wrote twice in this year itself to Antony, informing him of the widespread discontent among the services on account of MoD's handling of the case.
Said a source, "True that we've been asked to rework our case. These are issues of language and wordings which we will overcome. "When asked, a source at the AG's office too confirmed that 'all representations had been returned to MoD.' A set of questions sent to the MoD went unanswered despite repeated requests.