Compassionate Appointment — Are we doing Justice to our Heroes

Brig Harcharan Singh, VSM
The showdown at Galwan projected India as a nation with a strong political and military will to protect its national Interests. Unarmed Indian soldiers took on numerically superior and lightly armed Chinese, like a Tiger pouncing on a pack of wolves. The only thought directing the soldiers on the spot, was to safeguard their territory from the illegal occupation of intruders, without thinking twice about the consequences.Every Indian was full of pride for the men who laid down their life for the IZZAT( Honour ) of their flag, ably led by Col Santosh Babu.Govt of Telangana announced and dispersed a Cl A Govt job for the Veer Nari , along with an ex gratia grant of Rs 5 Crores.In this article, we would examine provisions of Govt job and Ex Gratia grant provisions made by UT of J&K , and analyse if some additional .provisions are required to be incorporated.
Provision of Govt Jobs.
Centre Govt has made provisions for reservation in Center Govt jobs, PSUs, Banks, Central Police Forces, Defence Service Forces etc, for the Armed Forces Personnel, as majority of them retire at a young age. Special provision exist for reservation and
Priority of employment for the Soldiers , who are incapacitated during service, attributable to Battle conditions. Reservation is also made in Central Govt jobs for dependents of Soldiers, who have sacrificed their life in the line of duty. This has already been covered in one of the earlier articles in this newspaper.
Lets now concentrate on some provisions existing in UT of J&K.
Provision of Govt Jobs in J&K. Vide SRO 43 dt 22 February 1994, Govt of J&K has made certain provisions of Compassionate Appointment .Provisions have been made for Compassionate Appointments for family member of a Govt Servants (die in harness case ),Govt Employees ( who die in militancy related action ),Civilian (who dies due to militant related action or enemy action on border ) or member of Army/ Para military Force( any one upto the rank of JCO, who dies during discharge of law and order duty/ as a result of enemy action at border).
Examination of Provisions of SRO 43
While doing critical analysis of the SRO, a comparison would be made with the various Govt provisions existing in other neighbouring States also.Let us evaluate various clauses of SRO 43, which may require changes. Firstly, the rule on provisions of a govt job for dependent of a fatal Battle Casualty is proudly referred to as Honour and Gratitute by the Govt of Punjab., 2 rather than calling it a Compassionate Appointment . A better nomenclature is solicited for the Govt Service being offered to martyrs by the Govt of J&K , under SRO 43.
Place of Death and Circumstances. As per Para 3 of the SRO, for the family being eligible for a Govt job, the death of the soldier should have taken place within Geographical limits of the State (now UT) of J&K, during deployment in duties related to Law and Order or at Border/LAC. In actuality, only the terrorism related death cases are considered for Govt Job, which also implies that cases of death due to avlaunche at Siachen / casualties due to enemy firing at border, does not get benefit of SRO 43. Also,it implies that the families of soldiers from J&K deployed in any other country under UN or in other States of India, will not get benefit of SRO 43, if the soldier is a fatal casualty.. Few years back , in an unfortunate event, eight soldiers of J&K laid down their life , in an Terrorist related incident in NE Sector.No Govt Job or Ex Gratia compensation benefits were granted. On the other hand, martyred soldiers from other states would have got all entitlements , authorized in those States i.e., Punjab / Himachal etc, irrespective of place of death.Just to remind the readers that going by this logic , soldiers from a state like Haryana would never get any benefit, as many of our states have no law and order problem of Pak sponsored terrorism or any border with Pak,
Time Limit to Apply . Para 3 of SRO stipulates that the application for appointment has to be given within one year of death, amended to five years now. Most of our soldiers have a young profile , and in the majority of the cases of Battle Casualty, it is seen that their children are , at an average, between 5 to 10 years of age. This clause hence denies any chance to the children to avail facility of Govt job, as they are not eligible to join Govt job, 5 years after the death of their father.In Punjab, a vacancy for Govt job is assured for the child , till he/ she attains 25 years of age.
Eligibility for a Post. In these times, it is the endeavour of parents to provide the best of education to the children. With passage of time, Wives and children of soldiers from villages also are more educated , as compared to earlier times. Para 3 of SRO has not taken the trend of elevation of education standards and offers only a Cl IV Govt post. In Punjab, the Govt offers Gp A/B/C/D jobs to one family member , as per education qualification.
Routing of Application. As per Para 5(3 ) of SRO, the onus of processing application for the job rests with the family/ unit of the soldier . The application is processed with the concerned DC who May issue appointment orders. In contrast, in Punjab, a Minister, MLA,DC and SP are detailed by Political Secy to CM to visit the house of the Martyr for participation in last rites including the BHOG Ceremony. Hence, it is insured through this practice that in addition to representing the Govt, on the spot quick decisions are possible on all issues, due to the presence and interaction of senior leaders and civil servents with the family. On the other hand, the plight of old parents or Veer Nari could be well imagined, who are trying to get the files moving through their solo effort, with no sensitivity/ priority for such cases.
Selection of Candidates. In J&K , the processing of applications for the post of Cl IV post is done by the DC. In Punjab, the processing of cases and selection of candidates for Cl A/B/C posts for battle casualty cases is being done by a High Level Committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, without a written exam, by assessing the suitability of the candidate for a post..Thus, it is ensured that there are no impediments in the selection process, thus removing the Red Tapism.
Terms & Conditions
The requirement is being felt to suitably modify the terms and conditions , time limits for application and identify posts in Cl A/B/C/D categories, as per the qualification of the candidates, in SRO 43, as already discussed.
Ex Gratia Grant — J&K Govt Order 805-GAD of 1999
As per Govt of J&K Order of 1999, an amount of Rs 5 Lakhs is granted to the next of Kin of security forces( including Defence personnel ) , killed in operations. This grant is now authorized both for soldiers who are permanent residents of J&K and also for Non Residents .The terms are given in Order no 723-GR (GAD) of 1990. The Soldiers are getting the grant, if the death is due to a terrorist related incident, within the territorial jurisdiction of J&K. If one compares it with other States, the Ex Gratia grant is Rs 50 Lakhs in UP and Punjab, One Crore in MP and Rs 5 Crore was paid to Col Suresh Babu by Telangana State , post Galwan incident.It implies that a soldier of J&K will not be granted any relief under this rule, if the death occurred in Galwan or Siachen or in any other part of country.
The requirement exists to modify the discriminatory clauses and grant the Ex Gratia to all Battle Casualty cases.
Way Ahead — New Era
After abrogation of Art 370, a lot of changes were expected in J&K, leading to good governance. The results have to be felt by the common man. In the neighbouring States, the family of a Battle Casualty is being made to feel important by visit of senior State Govt officials.
All issues are given on the spot decision, due to presence of senior officers. J&K can also take a lead, on similar lines. During tenure of Sh George Farnadez as RM, the concerned officials of MoD were sent for a visit to Siachen, who would not try to understand the necessity of Snow Scooters at Siachen. The case was approved immediately after the visit of Siachen by the officials at MoD,
Relevant Rules
The relevant rules on Ex Gratia Grant & grant of service to family member require immediate amendment, by removing irrelevant and discriminatory provisions.If we really want to honour the Martyrs, the families have to be given support of administration. We require to follow a clear cut policy and intent, to devise a system of One Window Clearance for the Families of Battle Casualties. Honouring of Veer Naris during the 15 August Parade by the Lt Governor would be an additional gesture in this direction.We would welcome and eagerly wait for such indicators of change.