Minutes of the Emergency Meeting of TSEWA Core Committee held at 0930 hrs on 18 Mar 2020 at 143, Vayupuri, Secunderabad- 500 094
The following members attended:
- Brig CS Vidyasagar President in Chair
- Cmde Sudheer Parakala Vice President
- HFO AV Reddy Vice President
- Col Dr GB Sethi General Secretary
- Lt Col G Parvathesam Treasurer
- Hony Capt B Joseph Joint Secretary
- Col MJ Ganapathy Member
- Lt Col VS Ramana Reddy Member
- Lt Col Vijai Salins Member
- Lt Col Dr K Bhaskar Reddy Member
- Cdr Chandra Shekhar Member
- Lt Col N Ravi Choudhary Legal Advisor
The President welcomed all present and thanked them for their efforts to attend the meeting specially called to deliberate on the mail received from Col Ajit Singh Rana, President, TSEWA North Zone, States of Delhi NCR and Haryana after meeting the Advocate in Hon’ble Supreme Court on 17 Mar 2020.
The President appreciated the fact that though Lt Col N Ravi Choudhary, Legal Advisor of TSEWA has been suffering from fever and cough for over two days, he decided to take part in the deliberations of the meeting.
The gist of the mail from Col Ajit Singh Rana is as under: –
(a) TSEWA can file a case in Hon’ble Supreme Court for which they need to send registration certificate and letter signed by the President authorising the advocate to argue their case to ensure their disabled and war injured members do not pay income tax on their disability pension by challenging the Circular issued by Min of Fin, Revenue Dept, CBDT Div.
(b) The case may take some time for judgment to be delivered and it is not possible to predict how long it may take.
(c) Petitioners of TSEWA should not pester the advocate to know the progress from time to time.
(d) The advocate will only argue the case. All documentation shall be done by Advocate on Records to whom legal fees has to be paid separately.
On the advice of Core Committee, the President spoke to Brig SKS Rana, VSM, President Legal Div. He gave his recommendation after discussing with our advocate in AFT Delhi:-
(a) TSEWA should await progress of the case which is likely to come up in Hon’ble Supreme Court on 23 Mar 2020. The case is already filed by Sri IS Singh who has 64 petitioners.
(b) In case the judgment is REM i.e. applicable to all disabled and war injured soldiers, then there is no need for TSEWA to file the case as our affected members also will get the same benefit of exemption of income tax on their disability pension.
(c) In case the judgment is interpreted by Min of Def to be applicable only to those who filed the case, then TSEWA can file a case in Hon’ble Supreme Court requesting to give the same relief to our disabled and war injured soldier members.
(d) While this was his opinion having considered all the pros and cons as Legal Advisor, he left it to the Core Committee to take the decision.
General Secretary read out a mail from Col N Sitaramaiah, a Core Committee member who was out of town and hence unable to attend the meeting. He read the contents of the mail which are as under:
(a) The disabled and war injured soldiers have their own ESM Associations like DIWAVE and War Wounded Welfare Association. These organisations should take a lead and file cases in Hon’ble Supreme Court in addition to what has already been filed.
(b) Disabled and War Injured members of TSEWA can join these associations as impleaders to cut down the legal expenses.
(c) The financial position of TSEWA is not very healthy. We find it difficult to conduct Awareness programmes as donations have come down to a trickle. Legal expenses are very high in Hon’ble Supreme Court.
(d) In case the Min of Def interprets a positive judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court and gives benefit of exemption of income tax to only those petitioners who approached Hon’ble Supreme Court, then TSEWA can file a case pleading for similar relief to our disabled and war injured soldier members.
Lt Col N Ravi Choudhary, Legal Advisor gave his legal opinion as under: –
(a) Most of the AFTs, Hon’ble High Courts and Hon’ble Supreme Court do not give REM judgment. The benefit generally goes only to those who are petitioners. Therefore, the members of TSEWA are not likely to get the benefit of exemption of income tax even if Hon’ble Supreme Court gives such a beneficial judgment.
(b) Due to spread of COVID-19, presently only six benches are functioning in Hon’ble Supreme Court.
(c) Chief Justice of India is the Master of Roster. He allocates cases to different benches depending upon the importance of the case.
(d) CJI has already informed that only important cases will be taken up for hearing due to COVID-19. Hence even if TSEWA files a case immediately, it may not get listed and nor get OA No.
(e) TSEWA should await the progress of the case already filed in Hon’ble Supreme Court for 64 petitioners by advocate Sri IS Singh. The case is likely to come for hearing on 23 Mar 2020. Depending upon the progress, TSEWA can take an appropriate decision.
(f) Disabled and War Injured Soldiers of TSEWA can join as impleaders in the case already filed by Sri IS Singh.
(g) In case the Min of Def (ESW) interprets the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court to give benefit only to those petitioners, then TSEWA should definitely file a case in Hon’ble Supreme Court.
(h) The Hon’ble Supreme Court has issued a stay order. Min of Def has instructed PCDA (Pensions) Allahabad / Prayagraj to cancel circular directing CPPCs of banks to effect recovery of income tax from date Circular of Min of Fin was issued in Jun 2019. Therefore, disabled and war injured soldiers are getting income tax relief on their disability pension.
(i) On 23 Mar 2020, the bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court will ask the Government counsel to submit his arguments in writing in the form affidavit. Therefore, nothing much is likely to take place on that day.
Thereafter, the members of Core Committee deliberated over the suggestions/options and arrived at the following decisions, taken by majority vote:
(a) Disabled and War Injured soldier members of TSEWA should RUSH as the Hon’ble Supreme Court may take two to three years to give their judgment. Till the judgment is given, no income tax is deducted on disability or war injury pension.
(b) In case, the affected members of TSEWA want to join as Impleaders to the case already filed by Mr IS Singh, they may do so to reduce the cost of litigation.
(c) In case the Hon’ble Supreme Court does not give REM judgment i.e. benefit those who have not come before it to get similar relief as petitioners, then TSEWA should file a case titled in Hon’ble Supreme Court praying for similar relief be granted to our Disabled and War Injured Soldier members of TSEWA.
(d) The legal fees for war injured soldiers who get higher pension may be fixed slightly higher and disabled soldiers be fixed legal fees slightly lesser to reduce the cost of litigation. The amount of legal fees fixed should be different for Officers, JCOs and OR.
(e) There are 497 members of TSEWA in Broad Banding BB–1 to BB–4 cases. Mostly it comprises Officers. Hence it is not difficult to get affected members as petitioners in case TSEWA files a case in Hon’ble Supreme Court at a later date.
Thereafter the President spoke to Col Ajit Singh Rana and gave the majority view of Core Committee on this issue.
The President thanked all members for sparing their time to attend the meeting and gave their views freely and frankly. He thanked Lt Col N Ravi Choudhary, who, though unwell, took the trouble to attend the meeting.
There being no other agenda, the President declared the meeting as concluded. The next meeting of the Core Committee is scheduled at 1000 hrs on 28 Mar 2020, the Saturday to go over the agenda of NEC and NEC meeting will be held at 1000 hrs on 29 Mar 2020, Sunday in 143, Vayupuri, Secunderabad
Brig CS Vidyasagar (Retd)