02 MAY 2012 RATHIN DAS | AHMEDABAD
In a major victory for the surviving relatives of the 54 Indian
prisoners of war (PoWs) still held in Pakistani jails, the Ministry of
Defence on Wednesday assured the Gujarat High Court that all the pay,
perks, promotion and retirement benefits of these soldiers would be
paid within five weeks.
A division bench of the high court comprising Acting Chief Justice
Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala ruled that the Union
Defence Secretary should file a compliance report by June 14 when the
case would be heard again.
Bringing a logical end to a decade-old legal battle on behalf of the
54 PoWs in Pakistani jails, the Gujarat High Court had ordered in
December last year that these soldiers held in the enemy country since
1971 war be deemed to be on duty since then and, thus, all their
service benefits till retirement be paid to their next of kin.
Simultaneously, the High Court had also ordered the Centre to take up
the issue in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at Hague.
Through an undertaking filed by Union Defence Secretary Shashi Kant
Sharma, the Centre told the High Court that the Finance Ministry has
sanctioned the compensation amount to be paid to the relatives of the
54 PoWs but it would take a long time to calculate the total benefits
pertaining to pay, perks, promotions benefits and pensions for all
The Defence Secretary informed the court that the Centre has
approached the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s order to
take the matter to the International Court of Justice.
The High Court bench ordered the Ministry to revert back to it with
the apex court ruling by June 14.