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Army ex-chief against tax on disability pension

Former army chief General VP Malik said he disagrees with the government’s move to impose income tax on disability pension.

Updated: Dec 02, 2019, 08.51 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Former army chief General VP Malik said he disagrees with the government’s move to impose income tax on disability pension.

“It is an awkward question for an ex-chief to answer,” he said, responding to a question on disability pension at the Times Literature Festival on Saturday. “After all, I have done my duty and retired and there are others who are now running the army... But all I would say is that people who have been disabled during war… they need to be looked after. So I am not in favour of re-imposing income tax on disability pension.”

Malik was the army chief during the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan, in which more than 500 Indian soldiers were killed and several injured.

The finance ministry said in June that income tax exemption on disability pension would be available only for those who had been ‘invalidated’ from service and not for those with disabilities who retire after complete service.

The move prompted an outcry in the defence fraternity, after which defence minister Rajnath Singh promised to look into the issue and ask the three defence chiefs for their views.

The Chiefs of Staff Committee comprising the three chiefs recommended a partial rollback, saying that “income tax exemption should be given on the disability part of pension up to a certain limit.” Beyond that, disability pension will be taxed.

Meanwhile, speaking at the session on 20 years of Kargil, Major DP Singh, a retired officer who lost his right leg and had his intestines damaged by shrapnel, recounted how daily routines have become a challenge for him.

“Then, I take a long time to adjust the prosthetic – sometimes it fits, sometimes its twists. All in all, I take nearly 1.5 hours to get ready for a run in the morning. In that much time, you might as well take a brisk walk and come back,” he said.

The biggest hurdle for him was not physical recovery but mental obstacles.

“Once you are out of the hospital, the real tussle begins between what is reality and what your mind thinks it can still do,” he said.

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