Calling the move “malafide” and “arbitrary”, a retired military officer has moved a PIL in the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s decision to freeze dearness allowance owed to retired defence personnel.
According to a report in Bar and Bench, the allowance was due in the first week of April but the Ministry of Finance retrospectively suspended it on April 20, with effect from January.
The petitioner has reportedly said that with no other income source, he is adversely affected by the move. Retd. Military officer Major Onkar Singh Guleria is said to have added that he is a cancer patient and lives in a rented apartment.
"I and lakhs of Veterans are aggrieved by arbitrary act of Union of India through Secretary Finance Govt of India New Delhi who were committed to pay arrears of DA or dearness allowance in first week of April 2020 but purposely not payed and on 20th April 2020 has FREEZED "DA or dearness allowance" retrospectively with effect from 01st January 2020 (sic),” his plea reportedly said.
The retired officer reportedly added that the move came during a pandemic and that it would cause “irreparable loss” to veterans depending on the government, who needed to “survive honourably.”
He mentioned that the decision to suspend their dearness allowance also came at a time when the Prime Minister has been urging employers to not terminate their employees or cut salaries. Guleria reportedly added that the move would hurt senior citizens who were more vulnerable to COVID-19.
"This arbitrary and illegal mechanical step of Union of India without applying mind must be struck down immediately and all beneficiaries paid their legitmate authorised "DA or dearness allowance" wef 01st January 2020 and continued to be paid (sic),” the petition said.
The retired officer also mentioned that if the government was financially stricken, it should stop giving financial packages to bailout corporates.