Adjutant General Lt Gen. Ashwani Kumar
File photo of former Adjutant General Lt Gen. Ashwani Kumar (Retd) | Twitter: @ANI
Text Size:

New Delhi: Former Adjutant General Lt Gen Ashwani Kumar (Retd) has not ridiculed disabled soldiers or violated any service rules, the Indian Army has said in response to a legal notice sent by a retired officer who threatened to file a Rs 1-crore defamation suit against Kumar.

Lt Col Niraj Bakshi (Retd) had sent a legal notice to Kumar over his “disparaging remarks” about the disability pension during an interview with a TV channel last month before his retirement. Kumar had sought to delink what he termed lifestyle diseases from conditions or ailments that make personnel eligible for a disability pension.

Bakshi is a beneficiary of the disability pension.

In a legal response to Bakshi’s counsel, the Army said he is “liable to be proceeded against for making such disparaging remarks against a high ranking uniformed officer”.

“It is… false and mischievous to suggest that his statement was irresponsible and in an abandoned manner,” said the response.

ThePrint had reported on 6 November that Bakshi had said the former AG’s views were against the expressed statement of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, statutory provisions, and judgments issued by high courts and the Supreme Court.


Also read: Lt Gen Ashwani Kumar’s comments on NewsX show ties between Army & veterans at all-time low

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


‘Fair system’

In its response, the office of the AG at the Army Headquarters in Delhi said it had gone through the transcripts of Kumar’s interview.

It reveals Kumar “repeatedly reiterated that disability benefits arising in the course of discharge of official duties, were absolutely fair”, said the response.

An adjutant general is the head of a critical wing of the Army that takes care of administrative and legal affairs.

The response added that taxation exemption on disability benefits was also referred to as fair by Kumar. The disability benefits, which were occasioned in the discharge of official duties, could be distinguished.

“However, he suggested that there were cases where soldiers were drawing disability pension but were performing all the function, then where was the question of disability. The statement made by Lt. Gen. Ashwani Kumar (Retd.), the then Adjutant General, Indian Army was clearly in consonance with the rules of disability benefits which are extended only to deserving persons,” it said.

‘Not against policy’

Speaking about the alleged violations of policy, the Army said Kumar had given the interview in his official capacity and in accordance with policies.

“It is informed that Lt. Gen. Ashwani Kumar (now Retd.) was a serving officer on 31/10/2019. Further, not even a single statement made by Lt. Gen. Ashwani Kumar (Retd.), the then Adjutant General, Indian Army was either against the Media Policy nor in contravention of any judgment of any Hon’ble Court on the issue of disability benefit nor was the same with reference to a matter which was sub-judice.”

On the issue of defamation, it said Kumar was not even aware whether or not Bakshi is in receipt of disability benefits.

“And therefore no direct or indirect insinuation was levelled by Lt. Gen. Ashwani Kumar (Retd.)… There is therefore no question of… (Kumar) having either directly or indirectly caused any damage to the reputation of your client and/or brought down his prestige,” it said.

“The disbelief in respect of your clients reputation/prestige is therefore of his own imagination and creation for which he himself is responsible.”


Also read: Adultery, homosexuality maybe legal but in Army it’s unbecoming conduct & will be penalised


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here