A Curious Army Wife

I joined this crazy tribe when I married into the Indian Army

Archive for the month “April, 2016”

MOD not happy with increase in awarding maintenance allowance to military wives

I am no expert on marital disputes and related cases. However, this article caught my eye and I thought I should share it with you guys. It’s a report that Indian Express carried on March 31, 2016. 

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Published:March 31, 2016 7:21 pm 

A panel of experts of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has slammed the defence services for passing orders granting maintenance allowance to wives of military personnel from their salaries, especially in Army, without due investigation and scrutiny.

The panel, in its report, has criticised the defence services for passing such orders in, essentially, what are private matrimonial disputes. The Army, Navy and the Air Force Acts provide that the competent authority can impose a cut upto 33 per cent on pay and allowances which can be paid to the wife as maintenance on her application. With growing matrimonial disputes, the number of such applications has increased in the last few years especially with the Army granting maintenance to the spouses on almost all applications through non-speaking orders without providing reasons.

An expert committee constituted by the Defence Minister on litigation has however observed that the exceptional provisions are being invoked in a routine manner by defence authorities. It has also found that the system does not have the wherewithal or ability to examine the veracity or truthfulness of the allegations and counter-allegations of both parties which is basically a matter of evidence that can only be weighed and dealt with by civil courts under law legislated for this specific purpose. The panel has said that this exercise can only be carried out under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the relevant Marriage Acts, rather than the defence services getting into what may fundamentally be a civil or private dispute between a husband and his wife.

The panel has also observed that even the Army HQ has expressed concern on the issue and that maintenance is meant to tide over a difficult financial situation and not to lead life on someone else’s expense. It has recorded that the award of maintenance results in grave civil consequences for an individual wherein a cut is imposed on his pay and should be taken as a serious matter and not routine. Moreover, it may not be initiated on the fact whether the spouse is working or not but whether she has the capacity to work or not, further adding that a situation cannot be allowed to prevail wherein an otherwise qualified/educated spouse stops working or refuses to take up a job in order to claim maintenance.

The Panel has stated that though defence personnel have a bounden duty to maintain their families, such issues should be left to Courts to decide based on evidence. Surprised at the acceptance of an unusually high number of applications by the Army, the committee has questioned, “does it mean that it was found that out of the total applications received, such a high percentage of officers were found wanting in their familial and marital obligations? If yes, then what were the tools available to reach that conclusion?”

There has been a rise of litigation on the subject in the past. Recently, a Lt Col had averred that his wife held a Doctorate and also working in a real estate firm but still was awarded maintenance by the Army. Another officer had stated that his wife had a degree of MSc as well as BEd and was earning a huge amount from tuitions and he had elderly parents to look after but still deduction of arrears of maintenance had resulted in disbursement of more than Rs 30,000 to the wife per month while he was being disbursed a amount of just Rs 6000. Another serving Colonel had stated that was being expected put his earnings at the disposal of his wife who was fully qualified and competent to work and was actually working.

Here’s the Indian Express link to the report. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/army-defence-ministry-mod-panel-frowns-on-increase-in-awarding-maintenance-allowance-to-wives-in-military/

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My first Ladies’ Meet!

There should be two stories under this title — the first Ladies’ Meet that I attended, and the first Ladies’ Meet I hosted.

As luck would have it, both these historical accidents incidents happened at the same Ladies’ Meet.

It was my first month as a newly wed in my husband’s unit, which was hosting this mega reunion of all unit officers (serving and retired).

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Can you believe it! All these years and I have not been able to attend any garden parties that I was invited to. Photo by Saanya Bajaj Rawat, a fellow army wife and an Instagram star!

Women of my unit decided to have a coffee morning and since I was the latest bakra — was given emcee duties. I’ve was an active orator in school and college, so was thankful of the department I was to handle for that “Spring” or “Holi” or “Colours” or “Floral” theme meet (I can’t seem to remember what the theme was).

Having never attended anything that remotely resembled a Ladies’ Meet, I was kind of taken aback by the extensive preparations that went into it. Right from the games, the menu and the gifts, it all seemed a little surreal and waste of time.

Rehearsals took it’s toll on everyone.

I lost my ‘Tambola virginity’.

By the end, I lost my appetite for that elaborate menu.

I also learnt how to say Thank you and Good Evening for at least 7 times before the guest actually left. Before that, guests spent a good 10 minutes gushing about what a great performance we’ve all put up, and how the food was smashing (even that lady whose expression changed the moment she took a bite of that samosa … to be fair, it did not have enough salt).

And I prayed (more than what I’d prayed during Maths exams) that some divine shakti would stop me from attending the next one.

Maybe my silent prayer was heard by the same upar-wala who had earlier handled (manhandled) my maths request.

Within a month, it was time for me to attend another one. Thankfully, I was a spectator this time.

I made the rookie mistake of not carrying my wallet, because it was a man’s wallet and did not go well with my saree (or any saree). So, at the entrance, I felt a little embarrassed when the lady at the reception desk said, “Rs50 please,” and I had no money with me.

A senior officer’s wife, who was standing right behind me, generously offered to pay my share. She later told me that she had an inkling that I would not know about this “entrance fee”, as was the case with most of the newly weds.

The chief guest of the event arrived (usually wife of the senior most officer) and was “shown” FOUR welcome drinks! She picked one. I wanted to stop the waiter cause a blue drink had caught my fancy. It was gonna go waste as it is na, why not put it to good use. I thank my invisible fairy godmother who prevented me from putting  my thoughts into action.

As soon as the MC started off with her animated enactment of the script, a semi-loud chuckle was heard from the far corner. I was sitting there. What the hell, I made that noise.

One of my unit ladies glared at me to stop! I instantly put on my poker face and resorted to man-hi-man hasna. Years later, I remembered that woman while listening to an absolutely brilliant emcee performance by an Army wife at the IMA passing out parade (POP). Talent ki kami nai hai, it’s just not every unit gets an equal distribution of it.

I am not a great fan of Tambola. Never was, never will be. But that day, it was the best game in the world. I won Rs 75 in it and proudly told my husband,”Aaj teri biwi Rs25 rupaye jeet ke aayi hai! Chal tujhe treat deti hoon.”  I dreamt of Tambola being recognised as an Olympic sport that year and me on the podium.

Status quo was restored the very next day.

I’m waiting for your stories… pen it down (one word, one line, one para, one big story… your choice) in the comment section below.

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