Hot Off The PressNews

NHRC, India issued a notice on 24-02-2021 to the Union Ministry of Defence, through its Secretary, to show cause why Rs 5 Lakh should not be recommended to be paid as a relief to the next of the kin of an innocent citizen Thingtu Ngemu, who died in the uninformed and indiscriminate firing by the Army unit of 21 Para Special Forces, PSF, during an operation against Naxalites in Nantok circle, Dist. Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh in the interning period of 14-15 June, 2017.

The Commission has communicated that the case needs to be treated as special because the Judicial Enquiry Magistrate has held that the PSF personnel are responsible for the death of an innocent citizen. The Commission has also emphasized that if the Defence Ministry pays the relief amount to the victim’s family on the basis of its show cause notice in such cases, it will send positive signals amongst the locals and the credibility of the Armed Forces shall also improve. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission had registered the case on 29th June, 2017, on the basis of intimation from the Supdt. of Police, Changland, Arunachal Pradesh regarding the death of Thingtu Ngemu during an action by the security forces against naxalites in Nantok circle District Changlang.

Subsequently, the Commission through its Investigation Division found that the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Distt. Changlang, had conducted the enquiry in the matter. It is recorded, in his report that the PSF personnel neither cooperated nor submitted any statements regarding the operation despite official letters & request of the Enquiry Magistrate.

After considering the relevant evidences, the Judicial enquiry officer found that the Army Unit of 21 Para Special Forces (PSF) of Jorhat had laid ambush within the reachable range of civilian/villagers, without any knowledge of local civil police or villagers, which was undesirable and dangerous for the inhabitants. Further, the PSF personnel detained a local innocent villager Tuwang Ngemu till late night without any reason, while he was returning from his own garden. He should have been allowed to go home after ascertaining his identity.

As a result, the other villagers and family members came towards the forest in search of Tuwang Ngemu. The PSF should have used night vision glasses/equipment to see through the dark night hours and should have identified innocent empty-handed villagers. They should have also heard the shouts of the villagers, who were searching their man, who was already detained by the PSF. Instead they resorted to blind firing without any provocation, which led to the killing of an innocent villager under the pretext of “mistaken identity”.

The enquiry Magistrate has also reported that the PSF continued firing indiscriminately from one side till 3 am of the next morning of 15/6/2017 without any retaliation or any cross-firing from anywhere. Such a blunder and irresponsible action is unjustified.

Holding the PSF personnel responsible for the death of Thingtu Ngemu, the enquiry magistrate noted that the victim was an innocent and had no connection with any outfit. The deceased is survived by his old ailing parents, wife & two small children. He was the primary bread earner & now the family has no source of livelihood.

Based on the analysis and inputs of the facts by its Investigation Division, the Commission, under Section 19 of PHR Act, has issued the show cause notice why the victim’s family should not be paid the monetary relief.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 26-02-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jayant Nath, J., reiterated the consistent position of law that right to access to clean drinking water is a fundamental right.

Petitioners who have filed the instant case are veterans, decorated officers, war-widows and Armed Forces Personnel belonging to all the three wings who were allotted plots in question for residential tenements by respondent 1 pursuant to a scheme by respondent 1 in 1961.

It has been stated that they are legally authorized residents and must be recognized/acknowledged by every respondent. Allotment of plots was by the society formed by the Ministry of Defence which culminated into proper sale deeds registered with the office of sub-registrar.

Further, it was claimed that the petitioners have been paying tax to MCD at urban rates and that subsequently, this was acknowledged as residential in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021.

Petitioners grievance is that despite repeated attempts since last 30 years, MCD has failed to provide a single facility to the petitioners till date under the garb of the petitioners allegedly being unauthorised. It is pleaded that such a stand of the authorities is completely untenable, unjust and illegal.

Harassment faced by War Widows and Disabled/Decorated Ex-Servicemen

 It is stressed that ex-servicemen resettled under this very scheme in many other stations in the country are living peacefully since the last 45 years. It is only in Delhi that war-widows and disabled/decorated ex-servicemen resettled under the Government of India mooted scheme have been harassed and denied essential basic amenities of water, electricity, sewer, road, etc. for the last 55 years.

 Further, adding to the above agony, petitioners have also stated that the authorities including the local police do not allow the petitioners to repair/build their boundary walls. The petitioners’ colony roads have become a thoroughfare for tens of thousands of people living in adjoining areas. This has also affected the security and the lands are open to encroachment.

Court’s Analysis

First and foremost thing that strikes the Court was that the petition seemed to have completely ignored that the area in question was as per the stipulated regulations for agriculture purposes.

Delhi Jal Board’s affidavit had mentioned that the Defence Services Enclave is an unauthorized colony mentioned in Registration No. 453 in the list of total 1639 unauthorized colonies, which have been identified by Urban Development Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

South Delhi Municipal Corporation also in its counter affidavit has stated that the Defence Services Enclave is an unauthorised colony and SDMC is not carrying out any development work pertaining to it. Similarly, Govt. of NCT of Delhi in its counter-affidavit also states that Defence Service Enclave is an unauthorised colony.

Bench stated that merely because the petitioners were allotted the plots cannot be a ground to insist that the area is for residential purposes.

As per Section 7 of the said Act, DDA has to prepare a Master Plan for Delhi which will indicate the manner in which the land in each zone is proposed to be used. Further, Zonal Development Plans are to be prepared which will indicate the aspects stated in Section 8 of the said Act. As per Section 14 of the said Act, no person shall use any land in a particular zone otherwise than in conformity with the plan.

 High Court noted that the petitioners are all retired defence personnel who have devoted the most productive period of their lives defending the nation’s borders and performing other dangerous and difficult tasks normally performed by defence service officers.

Bench requested Secretary, the Ministry of Defence/respondent 1 to convene a meeting of functionaries who can take a decision in terms of the directions of Division Bench of this Court in WP (C) 8276 of 2014.

Further, as far as drinking water is concerned, in the counter-affidavit of Delhi Jal Board it was stated that the development work like laying of water pipeline in the area in question could only be executed by the said respondent subject to clearance from the Urban Development Department, GNCTD.

As the colony in the instant case was unauthorised, permission for installation of 4 number tube wells has been given to the RWA and at present, water is being supplied for drinking purposes through the existing tube wells as an interim arrangement. The said arrangement is said to be maintained and regulated by the RWA.

“…an individual has a right to access to drinking water in quantum and quality equal to his basic needs.”

For the above, Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in A.P. Pollution Control Board II v. Prof. M.V. Nayudu, (2001) 2 SCC 62.

“Right to access to drinking water is fundamental to life and there is a duty of the State under Article 21 of the Constitution to provide clean drinking water to its citizens.”

Bench held that the petitioners cannot be deprived of a right to access to drinking water merely on the ground that it is an unauthorised colony. Petitioners were residing in the said area for the last 50 years and could not be continuously deprived of the said right to access to drinking and potable water.

Hence Delhi Jal Board is directed to make an appropriate scheme as per their normal procedure for supply of potable drinking water to the petitioners. The scheme shall be framed and implemented preferably within 9 months. [Delhi Sainik Cooperative Housing Building Society Ltd. (Regd.) v. Union of India,  2021 SCC OnLine Del 34, decided on 11-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Petitioners: Dushyant Dave, Senior Advocate with Bahar U. Barqi, Advocate.

Respondents: Maninder Acharya, ASG with Anurag Ahluwalia, CGSC, Abhigyan Siddhant, and Sharuya Jain, Advocates for Union of India/R-1

Naushad Ahmed Khan, ASC(CIVIL), GNCTD

Puja Kalra, Standing Counsel and Virendra Singh, Advocate for SDMC

Ajay Verma, Senior Standing Counsel with Ruchi Chopra, Advocate for DDA.

Puja Kalra, Advocate for SDMC.

Sumeet Pushkarma, Standing Counsel with Devanshu Lohiya, Advocate for Delhi Jal Board and L.L. Meena (E.E.)

Hot Off The PressNews

Permanent Commission to Women Officers in Indian Army sanctioned by Government

Ministry of Defence has issued the formal Government Sanction Letter for grant of Permanent Commission (PC) to Women Officers in the Indian Army, paving the way for empowering Women Officers to shoulder larger roles in the organisation.

The order specifies grant of PC to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) Women Officers in all ten streams of the Indian Army i.e Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), and Intelligence Corps in addition to the existing streams of Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).

In anticipation, the Army Headquarters had set in motion a series of preparatory actions for conduct of the Permanent Commission Selection Board for affected Women Officers. The Selection Board will be scheduled as soon as all affected SSC Women Officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation.

The Indian Army is committed to provide equal opportunities to all personnel including Women Officers to serve the Nation.


Ministry of Defence

[Press Release dt. 23-07-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Government has taken a decision to allow Invalid Pension to Armed Forces Personnel with less than 10 years of qualifying service.

Invalid pension is granted to the Armed Forces Personnel who is invalided out of service on account of disability which is accepted as Neither Attributable to Nor aggravated (NANA) by Military Service. The proposal has been approved by Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh. Benefit of this decision will be available to those Armed Forces Personnel who were in service on or after 04.01.2019.

Earlier, the minimum period of qualifying service actually rendered and required for invalid pension was 10 years or more. For less than 10 years qualifying service, invalid gratuity was admissible. By this decision, Armed Forces Personnel whose service is less than ten years and became/become invalided out of service on account of any bodily or mental infirmity which is Neither Attributable to Nor Aggravated (NANA) by Military service and which permanently incapacitated/incapacitates them from military service as well as civil re-employment, will be benefited and it will make them economically sound.


Ministry of Defence

[Press Release dt. 15-07-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Hot Off The PressNews

Till now unmarried permanently disabled and financially dependent sons of ECHS beneficiaries after attaining the age of 25 years are not considered dependant and hence are not eligible for availing medical facilities under Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).

This is as per the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) Rules which are followed by ECHS. However, vide their OM No 4-24/96-C&P/CGHS(P)/EHS dated January 1, 2020, the CGHS has declared such sons of CGHS beneficiaries who have become disabled after attaining the age of 25 years, dependant and hence eligible for availing CGHS benefits subject to fulfilment of conditions laid down in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) Office Memorandum (OM) No 4-24/96-C&P/CGHS(P)/EHS dated May 5, 2018.

It has now been decided by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) to similarly treat unmarried permanently disabled and financially dependent sons of ECHS beneficiaries who have become disabled after attaining the age of 25 years as dependant and hence eligible for availing benefits under ECHS subject to fulfilment of conditions laid down in the MoHFW OM of May 7, 2018.


Ministry of Defence

[Press Release dt. 08-07-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

INDIA-CHINA BORDER SITUATION

Indian and Chinese officials continue to remain engaged through the established military and diplomatic channels to address the current situation in the India-China border areas.  At this stage, therefore, any speculative and unsubstantiated reporting about these engagements would not be helpful and the media is advised to refrain from such reporting.


Ministry of Defence

[Press Release dt. 06-06-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Government has accepted and implemented three important recommendations of Committee of Experts (CoE) under the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border Infrastructure. These were related to speeding up road construction, leading to socio economic development in the border areas.

On the matter related to creating border infrastructure, the Government has implemented recommendation of CoE to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO). It has been made mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore.

The other recommendation relating to introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery has been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements. Border Roads has recently inducted Hot-Mix Plant 20/30 TPH for speedier laying of roads, remote operated hydraulic Rock Drills DC-400 R for hard rock cutting, a range of F-90 series of self-propelled snow-cutters/blowers for speedier snow clearance.

New Technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilisation, cementitious base for pavements, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction. With the empowerment of field officers through enhanced delegation of financial and administrative powers, there has been significant improvement in faster financial closure of works.

The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR). Further, with the adoption of EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.


Ministry of Defence

[Press Release dt. 18-05-2020]