Chandigarh (CDG): Giving a ray of hope to the awardees of Sena Medal, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed Railway Board chairman to decide on providing train travel passes to them within six weeks. Armed forces personnel have been accusing the Railways for the anomaly as passes are being issued to recipients of Police Medal, but such privileges have been denied to awardees of Sena Medal, which is placed higher in precedence.
Orders from the HC have come in the wake of a petition filed by Maj Gen T.P.S.Bakshi (retd), a Sena Medal Awardee from Panchkula.
Maj Gen Bakshi had sought time-bound directions to the defence and the railway ministries to coordinate amongst each another and resolve the anomaly on the train pass issue.
Railways had initiated a system of issuing complimentary passes to gallantry awards starting from Param Vir Chakra (PVC) to Shaurya Chakra (SC), which is placed on Article 15 of the Presidential Order of Precedence for Medals.
The facility was later extended to the Police Medal for gallantry placed on Article 24. However, the Sena Medal for gallantry, which featured on Article 22 and two steps higher than the Police Medal, was left out.
In his petition, Maj Gen Bakshi argued before the HC that the issue was taken up time and again by the defence services and even raised in the parliament, but the anomaly was not rectified by the Railways despite assurances.
In 2012, a parliamentary committee expressed its “dismay” over the situation, and in October 2013, the defence secretary, in a letter, again urged the railways to undo the wrong and also stated that the reply of the issue in the parliament had been construed as an ‘assurance to the house which was yet to be fulfilled’.
In its March 18 orders, Justice Augustine George of the high court clarified that Major General T P S Bakshi should approach the chairman of the Railway Board within two weeks with a representation on the demand of concessional rail passes for Sena Medal awardees. “On receiving the representation, the chairman of Railway Board shall decide by passing a speaking order within a period of six weeks from the date of submission of such a representation. In case the claim is accepted, the railway authorities shall issue the requisite notification/communication within a further period of four weeks,” says the HC order.