A senior Army officer has served a legal notice to the Union government protesting against the alleged withdrawal of free ration to Army officers in peace areas and sought restoration of the benefit within 60 days.
Col Mukul Dev, Deputy Judge Advocate General, HQ 12 Corps, wrote to the Government of India through Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra seeking immediate withdrawal of the order.
The government’s decision to give an allowance of Rs 96 for daily purchases in place of paid-for rations to the officers in peace areas from this July has triggered resentment.
In his notice, Col Dev claimed that he joined the army in 1988 after he came across a UPSC advertisement/ notification in a newspaper about the Combined Defence Services examination. According to him, his decision to join the army was predicated on the provision of free ration, as was spelled out in the terms and conditions of the notification.
"There was no mention of provision of cash in lieu of free rations in the notification. The decision of yours has violated the basic terms and conditions of my service upon which I was employed and commissioned and that too without obtaining any written consent from me,” read the notice dated July 1.
"It may kindly be noted that such notification for provision of free rations to the officers of Indian Armed Forces is still in force even today for the officers who are due for commissioning in near future or who are aspiring to join the Indian Armed Forces," it said.
In case of non-reversal of such orders within a period of 60 days from the issue of this legal notice, I shall be constrained to approach the Court of Law as also to raise the matter in any other appropriate judicial forum," Dev wrote in the notice.
The colonel from the army’s legal branch is posted as the deputy judge advocate general of a corps headquarters in Rajasthan.
Following the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, the Centre has decided to replace the free ration entitlement to officers in peace postings with a daily ration allowance of 96.03, effective July 1.
The government's decision to substitute ration with money had not gone down well with both serving and retired officers, who claimed that an allowance of roughly 3,000 a month was not sufficient. Another bone of contention was that they would be taxed twice: once as income tax on the allowance and second in the form of GST on food items.