The Indian Army today endorsed the government's decision to tax pensions given to personnel superannuated from the service.The government, however, said it will not tax pensions paid to soldiers who suffered disabling injuries in the line of duty. In a series of messages posted on social media, the Army criticised "personnel seeking disability, even for lifestyle diseases" for tax-exemption purposes and said it highlighted a worrying trend in the face of "security challenges to the nation"
The Army's reaction was also set out in an unsigned letter, shared on social media by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamam, in which it said "some veterans feel that the courage and valour displayed by soldiers wounded in battle should be compensated for by mere financial remuneration".
"Over the years broad-banding and compensation awarded for disability with income tax exemption, have led to a rise in personnel seeking disability, even for lifestyle diseases. The trend is worrisome and that too when the security challenges to the nation are on the rise," the Army said in a tweet.
Over the years broad-banding and compensation awarded for disability with income tax exemption has led to rise in personnel seeking disability, even for life style diseases. The trend is worrisome that too when the security challenges to the Nation are on the rise.— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) July 2, 2019
The move to tax disability pensions upset serving and retired members of the armed forces, who pointed to decorated veterans like Major General Ian Cardozo, who, during the 1971 war, amputated his own leg to prevent the setting of gangrene.
However, the Army, in its letter, reminded its veterans that "Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (Retd), #IndianArmy is a highly respected gallant soldier of 1971 war whose deeds exemplify true ethos of soldiering. As a living legend he has never let disability come between profession & military rigours."
"... remuneration alone cannot compensate for disabilities. The service must continue to provide them necessary support through their career in the Army and post their superannuation. This aspect is being exploited by unscrupulous personnel who have gained from disability benefits provided by the government to disabled soldiers," the letter continued.
The Army also reiterated its concern for "invalidated" personnel.
#IndianArmy is concerned for all personnel who are invalidated out of service in combat conditions or otherwise, and need additional support and discourages those who seek financial gains through their disabilities.— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) July 2, 2019
In a circular issued on June 24, the Central Board of Direct Taxes said pensions drawn by personnel who retired under normal circumstances would be taxed. It also clarified that disability pensions, which are additional payments, measured by rank, made to personnel who suffer disabling injuries in the line of duty, would remain tax free.
The centre has been criticised for its decision to tax disability pensions, with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raising the issue in the Lok Sabha last week.
As soon as Mr Chowdhury raised the issue, Congress members rushed the well and raised slogans like "Sena ko nayay do' (give justice to Army)" and ''sena ke naam pe vote mangana band karo' (stop asking votes in the name of Army)".
In response, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "I will look into the issue. The ministry is gathering information and will get back with details to the House."