Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has conveyed to senior government officials that the disability pensions in the Indian armed forces will continue to be exempt from tax. This aims at rolling back a recent order that included the provision under the tax purview.
However, as per sources, he also called on the three services, the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, to quickly come up with a process to reduce instances of misuse of the rules.
Sources close to the ministry said that ‘one-size-fits-all policy would be unfair’ and that the minister has taken a serious view of the misuse of disability pension. He believes that people with genuine disability because of service should not be made to suffer.
The defence minister had earlier told the Rajya Sabha also that the decision to go back to exempting disability pension from being taxed was being considered.
According to a June 24 notification by the finance ministry, disability pension and the pension of soldiers who have served their full tenure with the three services would no longer be exempt from income tax. The order said only soldiers who have been “invalidated” during military service will get exemption.
But, as per reports, this could now stand reversed to the previous order.
A recent analysis by Army HQ showed that a large number of officers and those in the medical corps had claimed disabilities for non-physical injuries such as hypertension, diabetes, hearing loss, obesity-linked diseases, and other ailments, that were more lifestyle related issues.
“The decision to reverse is welcome. There is no doubt that some unscrupulous soldiers had misused the facility. The military should devise a method to stop this. I suggest all cases of officers, men who got disability in their last rank needs to be reviewed. For had they got disability before there last promotion they may not have got the promotion, that would check misuse,” former deputy chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Raj Kadiyan (retd) said.