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The court said that the proposed independent body, to be headed by a retired judge of the apex court, would save the armed forces personnel running from pillar to post for redressal of their grievances.

The court said the findings of the independent forum would be recommendatory in nature.

The apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur said this in the course of hearing a petition by several senior ranking retired army officers seeking the extension of benefits of rank pay granted by the court by its order of March 8, 2010.

While accepting the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission, the government had denied the defence personnel of the benefit of the rank pay which they were getting since long.

The Kerala High Court upheld the petition challenging the denial of the rank pay by its order of July 4, 2003. The order of the high court was upheld by the apex court bench of Justice Katju and Justice R.M. Lodha March 8.

By the order, the apex court had directed the government to pay the arrears retrospectively from Jan 1, 1986 along with six percent interest.

Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium sought time for the government to consider the courts suggestion for setting up an independent grievances redressal body for the armed forces personnel.

The court said that setting up of an independent forum has become necessary because many of the armed forces personnel were running from pillar to post for the redressal of their grievances and increasingly knocking the doors of the courts.

The court expressed its anguish that service personnel were returning their medals and in cases burning their artificial limbs in expression of their frustration of not being given a hearing by the authorities packed with bureaucracy.

In a piece of advice, Justice Katju told both Vahanvati and Subramanium to remember the advise given by Chanakya to his king Chandragupta Maurya on the handling of the armed forces.

Justice Katju said that he specifically downloaded this piece of advice from the internet for the benefit of the government.

The court said that “Army people are a disciplined lot. They cannot go on agitation like others.”

It further said that it was sad that defence personnel had to knock the doors of the court for bridging the anomalies in their salaries.

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