In this post we will discuss about the failure of SBI bank to pay disabled soldiers pension and the contempt plea filed against its chairman before The Armed Forces Tribunal.
Contempt plea filed against bank chairman over pension payment
As per the reports , the State Bank of India (SBI) was Disturbed over the “failure” to give effect to pension payment orders (PPOs) of disabled soldiers issued in consequence of judicial directions, a disabled soldier has taken the
unprecedented step of filing a contempt petition against the bank’s chairman. In his plea filed before the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) at Chandigarh to initiate contempt proceedings in the matter, directions have been sought for imprisonment of the chairman or attachment or sale of SBI property.
The case came into light when The petitioner in the case, ex-Gunner Mahavir Singh of Mahendragarh in Harayna, was invalided out of the Army on account of schizophrenia and his PPO was issued by the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) in 2018 for grant of arrears of disability pension on AFT’s orders. However, he was not paid his arrears despite the PPO having been forwarded by PCDA to the SBI, being the pension disbursing authority (PDA) for the defense ministry.
The SBI, however, refused to release the amount to the disabled soldier on the pretext that it had lost the PPO and had requested for another copy from the PCDA. The PCDA later confirmed that the bank had contacted them in January 2020, and action was taken on the bank’s request in February 2020 itself
The soldier has contended in the contempt petition that there is total wilful non- compliance by the SBI in such cases and they do not even care to respond to queries. Giving other examples, the petition cites the case of Major Arun Panda whose war injury pension granted by the court has not been released by SBI despite multiple requests by him and the PCDA. The example of ex-Sepoy Rajinder Singh, another disable soldier, has been given who also didn’t get the amount as per PPO from SBI.
Yet another example of a disabled soldier, Naik Ranjit Singh, has been cited who has also not been released his disability benefits despite the Army having written to the bank to honour the instructions issued by the government to the bank. An example of an invalided disabled soldier, Inderjit Singh, has also been provided whose income tax is being deducted by the bank despite the directions of the Union finance ministry not to do so.
As per the Sources say that many nationalised banks are the pension disbursing agencies for the MOD but on many occasions they do not give effect to directions and instructions issued by the government or even PPOs issued on court orders. An officer of the defence accounts department, on the condition of anonymity, said that though it was their department which faced all flak but in a number of cases it’s the fault of other agencies.
As for now ,The case has been filed before the AFT Chandigarh with advanced notice to SBI. However, the hearing of the case is yet to be notified in view of restrictive hearing of cases before the tribunal due to Covid-19.
This post was written by Bharti Verma
For case specific advice, please contact best/top/expert Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) Lawyers Advocates in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali Zirakpur Derabassi Kharar (Punjab & Haryana).