Showing posts with label Disability Pension. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disability Pension. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Accident having occurred during leave and not attributable to government service - Claim for disability pension not sustainable (CCS(EOP) Rules, 1939)




HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

AFR
Reserved
In Chamber

Case :- SPECIAL APPEAL No. - 1178 of 2019

Appellants :- Union of India through the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi and 3 others
Respondent :- Raj Bahadur Singh s/o Veer Singh, r/o Murauli, P.O. Durgaganj, District Rampur
Counsel for Appellants :- Ashok Singh
Counsel for Respondent :- Divakar Rai Sharma

Hon'ble Biswanath Somadder,J.
Hon'ble Dr. Yogendra Kumar Srivastava,J.
(Per : Dr. Yogendra Kumar Srivastava,J.)

1. The present special appeal seeks to challenge the judgment and order dated 27.05.2019 passed in Writ-A No.53145 of 2004 (Raj Bahadur Singh Vs. Union of India and others) whereby the writ petition has been allowed and the orders passed by the respondent authorities in terms of which the claim of the petitioner for disability compensation under the Central Civil Services (Extraordinary Pension) Rules, 19391 stood rejected, have been set aside, and a direction has been issued to the respondents to compute the benefits payable to the petitioner under the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939 and to pay the same within a stipulated time period as per terms of the order.

2. The Union of India through Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, and the authorities of the Central Reserve Police Force, who were the respondents in the writ petition, are the appellants before us.

3. The principal grounds canvassed before us on behalf of the appellants is that the respondent-petitioner was not entitled to the benefit of disability compensation inasmuch as he was not 'homebound' when he met with the accident, as he had already reached home and the accident occurred when he was engaged in his personal work and as such there was no causal connection/ attributability between the disablement and government service, and the interpretation given by the learned Single Judge to Rule 3-A(1)(a) of the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, is erroneous and the judgment and order is legally unsustainable.

4. It has been pointed out that the respondent was sanctioned leave for 14th, 15th, and 16th December, 1998 with permission to avail 13th December, 1998, the same being a Sunday, and he had left the Unit, where he was posted, on 13th December, 1998 itself to reach his home town on the same day which is only at distance of 110 kilometers from the Unit he was posted, having a travelling time of about three hours, and in view of the same the accident having occurred on 14th December, 1998, the respondent petitioner could not in any manner be said to be 'homebound' at the relevant point of time.

5. Per contra, learned counsel appearing for the respondent-writ petitioner has supported the order passed by the learned Single Judge by submitting that the petitioner having met with an accident on 14th December, 1998 while he was on leave for a short period, the same would be considered to be on duty, and he would be entitled to get the disability benefit.

6. The facts of the case, which are reflected from the records before us, indicate that as per the case set up in the writ petition, the petitioner was on leave from 14th December, 1998 to 16th December, 1998, when he met with an accident, which occurred on 14th December, 1998 while he was going to his house by a scooter which was hit from the opposite side by a three-wheeler. The claim raised by him for disability pension under the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939 was based on a contention that the leave being for very short period, he would be considered to be on duty and would be entitled for the disability pension.

7. The claim raised by the petitioner for disability pension under the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, was rejected by the Commandant of the Battalion by means of an order dated 6th April, 1999, the operative portion of which reads as follows :-
‘‘1. चॅूकि बल संख्या-911182766 सिपाही राज बहादुर सिंह का एक्सीडेंट दिनांक 14/12/98 को लगभग 17 बजे दिनांक 14/12/98 से 16/12/98 तक 3 दिन के अवकाश दिनांक 13/12/98 की अनुमति सहित, के दौरान अपना निजी कार्य संपन्न करते समय अपने पैतृक गॉव में हुआ है, अतः उक्त दुर्घटना के परिणाम स्वरूप हुए नुकसान अथवा भविष्य में होने वाली किसी भी असक्तता के लिए उक्त कार्मिक केरिपुबल विभाग से किसी प्रकार के दावे/प्रतिपूर्ति का हकदार नहीं होगा तथा उक्त दुर्घटना सरकारी ड्यूटी पर न मानी जा कर कार्मिक के द्वारा निजी कार्य संपन्न करते समय निजी कार्य हेतु मानी जाये।2. कार्मिक के ईलाज की अवधि का समय समय पर कार्मिक के अवकाश की हकदारी के अनुसार नियमित कर दिया जाये।’’
8. Thereafter, the respondent-petitioner submitted a representation before the Deputy Inspector General, CRPF, Rampur raising a plea that the accident having occurred during the period of casual leave the same would be considered to be as a period on duty as per the relevant rules and accordingly the accident would be deemed to be while on government duty and accordingly he was entitled to disability pension. The claim sought to be raised by the respondent-petitioner was rejected by the Deputy Inspector General, CRPF by means of an order dated 5th April, 2004 stating therein that there was no provision under the relevant rules that the period spent on casual leave would be treated to be as that on duty and therefore the accident having occurred when the respondent-petitioner was on casual leave the same could not have been treated to be an accident while on duty.

9. Aggrieved against the aforesaid two orders, the respondent-petitioner preferred another representation before the Director General of Police, CRPF, Lucknow, reiterating his contention that the accident having occurred during a period when he was on casual leave the same would be treated to be as a period spent on duty. The representation of the petitioner was turned down by the Director General, CRPF, by assigning the reason that there was no provision under the rules to treat the period of casual leave as that on duty and therefore the respondent petitioner could not claim entitlement to disability pension.

10. The stand taken by the respondents (appellants herein) with regard to the claim set up by the petitioner, as reflected from the averments made in the counter affidavit filed in the writ petition, is being extracted below :-


"3(a). That while the petitioner was working as Constable/General Duty at 62 Bn. C.R.P.F. C/o. 56 APO. He has sanctioned three days Casual Leave i.e. for 14th, 15th and 16th December, 1998 with the permission to avail 13th December, 1998, being Sunday.
3(b). That on 14th December, 1998 when he was on leave, he met under an accident with three wheeler at his home town at Hardoi while he was doing his own work and he sustained the fracture injury in his right leg due to said accident.x x x x x5. That in reply to the contents of paragraph no. 3 of the writ petition, it is submitted that on 14th December, 1998 at his home town while the petitioner was on sanctioned leave the accident took place in which he receive the injury in his right leg. However, on 6.4.1999 an order has been passed that as per Rule petitioner is not entitled for disability benefits."
11. In order to appreciate the rival contentions, the provisions with regard to disability pension under the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, may be adverted to.

12. The relevant extracts from the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, are as follows :-

"3. For the purpose of these rules unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,(1) 'accident' means,(i) a sudden and unavoidable mishap; or(ii) a mishap due to an act of devotion to duty in an emergency arising otherwise than by violence out of and in the course of service;(2) 'date of injury' means,(i) in the case of accident or violence, the actual date on which the injury is suffered or such date, not being later than the date of the report of the Medical Board, as the President may fix; and(ii) in the case of disease, the date on which the Medical Board reports or such earlier date as may be fixed by the President with due regard to the opinion of the Medical Board;3-A. Disablement/Death.--(1)(a) Disablement shall be accepted as due to Government service, provided that it is certified that it is due to wound, injury or disease which,(i) is attributable to Government service, or(ii)existed before or arose during Government service and has been and remains aggravated thereby.(b) Death shall be accepted as due to Government service provided it is certified that it was due to or hastened by,(i) a wound, injury or disease which was attributable to Government service, or(ii) the aggravation by Government service of a wound, injury or disease which existed before or arose during Government service.(2) There shall be a causal connection between,(a) disablement and Government service; and(b)death and Government service, for attributability or aggravation to be conceded. Guidelines in this regard are given in the Appendix which shall be treated as part and parcel of these Rules."
13. We may also refer to the 'Guidelines for conceding attributability of disablement or death to government service', referable to Rule 3-A(2), appended to the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939.

14. In particular, we may refer to clause 4(b) and 4(c) of the aforesaid guidelines, which are as follows :-

"4(b) A person subject to the disciplinary code of the Central Armed Police Battalions, is 'on duty',(i) When performing an official task or a task, failure to do which would constitute an offence, triable under the disciplinary code, applicable to him.(ii) When moving from one place of duty to another place of duty irrespective of the method of movement.(iii) During the period of participation in recreation, organized or permitted by service authorities, and during the period of travelling in a body or singly under organized arrangements.(iv) When proceeding from his duty station to his leave station on returning to duty from his leave station at public expenses, that is, on Railway warrant, on cash TA (irrespective of whether Railway warrant/cash TA is admitted for the whole journey or for a portion only), in Government transport or when road mileage is paid for the journey.(v) When journeying by a reasonable route from one's official residence to and back from the appointed place of duty irrespective of the mode of conveyance, whether private or provided by the Government.(c) An accident which occurs when a man is not strictly 'on duty' as defined above, may also be attributable to service, provided that it involved risk which was definitely enhanced in kind or degree by the nature, conditions, obligations or incidents of his service and that the same was not a risk common to human existence in modern conditions in India. Thus, for example,where a person is killed or injured by someone by reason of his belonging to an Armed Police Battalion (and in the course of his duty in such service, he had incurred wrath of such person) he shall be deemed to be 'on duty' at the relevant time.This benefit will be given more liberally to the claimant in cases occurring on 'active service' as defined in the relevant Acts/Rules (e.g., those applicable to BSF/CRPF, etc., Personnel)."
15. It may be noted that the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, are applicable to all Central Government servants paid from Civil Estimates other than those to whom the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, applied, whether their appointments are permanent or temporary on a scale of pay or fixed pay or piece-work rate.

16. The CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, provide for the grant of award in the form of monthly pension or lump sum compensation in certain circumstances, including a case, where a government servant is boarded out of government service on account of his disablement due to wound, injury or disease and the disablement is accepted as due to government service, the government servant would be granted disability pension. This disability pension would be in addition to invalid pension/gratuity, if admissible under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972.

17. As we have already noticed the appellants/respondent have taken a specific stand that the respondent-petitioner had been sanctioned three days' casual leave for 14th, 15th, and 16th December, 1998 with a permission to avail 13th December, 1998 being a Sunday, and during the period when he was on leave on 14th December, 1998, he met with an accident at his home town while on his own work and there would be no entitlement to disability benefit to a person in a case where disability had occurred other than on government duty and accordingly orders were passed by the authorities rejecting his claim. It was also stated that there was no provision in terms of which a period of casual leave is to be treated as a period on duty, as claimed by the petitioner.

18. The stand taken by the respondents/appellants in their counter affidavit has been taken note of by the learned Single Judge in the judgment under appeal in the following manner :-
"A Counter Affidavit has been filed by respondents admitting that petitioner was working as Constable (General Duty) at 62 Battalion, CRPF, C/o 56 APO. He was sanctioned three days casual leave, i.e., 14th, 15th and 16th December, 1998 with the permission to avail 13th December 1998 being Sunday. On 14.12.1998 while riding a Scooter and going to his hometown at Hardoi, petitioner met an accident with a three-wheeler causing fracture in his right leg."

19. Similarly, the order dated 6th April, 1999 passed by the Commandant, CRPF, rejecting the claim of the respondent petitioner for disability pension has been taken note of in the judgment under appeal, as follows :-


"Whenever a person is granted leave, it cannot be said that as soon as he is relieved at the place of posting or moves towards his hometown, process of journey would not be attributable to Government service inasmuch this journey is also being undertaken by the employee concerned which is directly attributable to his service inasmuch as a part of service conditions, he was posted at a place other than his hometown. Therefore, till the incumbent reaches his hometown on official leave, in my view, the entire process of journey will be part of official duty being attributable to Government service and has casual connection to such service."

20. The judgment under appeal proceeds on the premise that the claim of the petitioner had been rejected for the reason that the petitioner had met with an accident while proceeding on leave and that the accident occurred on 14th December, 1998 while the petitioner was on his way to his home town. It is on the basis of this presumption that the learned Single Judge proceeded to formulate the issue in dispute and also to record his view in the following manner :-
"7. In the present case, petitioner met an accident when he was granted leave and going to his Hometown from the place of his posting. "Whether an employee when returns to Home from his Office or place of posting, if meets and accident, can it be said to have occurred during the course of employment and in the present case can it be said that it has connection with Government duty" is the moot question to be answered."8. In my view, it cannot be said that returning to Hometown from place of posting has no direct connection with the Government duty inasmuch, leave when granted to a Government servant is part of service condition and when Government servant is returning to his house from the place of posting, it is an incident of service having direct connection with the Government duty otherwise there would not have been any occasion for the Government Servant to undertake journey to return to his Hometown.9. When an Government Servant is granted leave and he proceeds from his place of Posting to his residence, can it be said that as soon as he leaves the place of postings, he ceased to be a Government Servant and there is no connection with Government duty at all is also an issue which has to be examined in the light of spirit of Rules with which Rules, 1939 have been framed.
10. The aforesaid Rules are for the welfare of employees who sustain injuries, disease etc. during course of duty or when they are doing something which has any connection with the Government Duty."

21. On a plain reading of the pleadings in the writ petition, as are evident from the records, it is seen that the issue which was formulated by the writ court did not at all arise in the facts of the case.

22. In the counter affidavit filed in the writ petition, the appellants/respondents nowhere took a stand that the accident occurred on 14th December, 1998 while the petitioner was going to his home town and that his claim for disability pension was turned down for that reason. The order dated 6th April, 1999 passed by the Commandant, CRPF, rejecting the claim of the petitioner for disability pension, is also not for the reason that the accident occurred when the petitioner was proceeding on leave as has been noted in the judgment under appeal.

23. It is also not the stand of the writ petitioner in the writ petition, or at any stage when he raised his claim for disability pension before the authorities, that the accident occurred on 14th December, 1998 while he was proceeding on leave or was on way to his home town. On the contrary, the admitted case of the petitioner was that the accident occurred while he was on leave and the basis of the claim set up by him was that the leave being for a very short period he would be considered to be on duty and would be entitled for disability pension on the basis thereof.

24. It thus emerges from the admitted stand of the parties that the petitioner had been sanctioned three days' casual leave for 14th, 15th and 16th December, 1998 with permission to avail 13th December, 1998, being a Sunday, and it was on 14th December, 1998 during the period when the petitioner was on leave that the accident occurred. The claim set up by the petitioner was based on the ground that the leave being for a short period, the petitioner ought to have been considered to be on duty when the accident occurred.

25. The precedents which have been referred to in the judgment under appeal, are mostly in respect of matters relating to the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923, and the interpretation of the expression 'in the course of employment' which term as per the settled legal position has been held to connote not only actual work but also any other engagement, natural and incidental thereto.

26. There can be no quarrel with the aforesaid proposition of law and in particular that the expression 'in the course of employment' would stand reasonably extended both as regards work-hours and work-place by applying the doctrine of notional extension as to time and place. The narrow interpretation that an accident would be said to have arisen 'out of and in the course of employment' only if the workman sustained injuries at the place of his employment, would be totally out of sync with the present times where modern management methods and developments have made it wholly unnecessary to consider a workman on duty only when he reaches his place of work or starts working and the principle of notional extension of the employers' premises has been adopted in the context of claims relating to workmen compensation. It is in this context of notional extension of the employers' premises that in a case where an employee dies while going to join his duty or while coming back from duty, would be deemed to be 'in the course of his employment'.

27. As we have already noticed, in the facts of the present case, the accident having admittedly occurred while the petitioner was already availing leave and was neither in the process of undertaking a journey home from duty or going back to duty the issue with regard to notional extension of the employers' premises would not arise in the present case.

28. The question which was therefore posed by the learned Single Judge while deciding the writ petition does not arise in the facts of the case at hand since it was not the case of the petitioner that the accident occurred while he was undertaking a journey back home from his place of work and for the said reason the accident could not be said to have occurred 'in the course of employment'.

29. The law with regard to applicability of the doctrine of precedents is well settled. It has been consistently held that a judgment is only an authority for what it actually decides and not what logically follows from the various observations made in the judgment. In order to fully understand and appreciate the binding force of a decision, it is always necessary to see what were the facts of the case in which the decision was given and what was the point decided.

30. In the case of The State of Orissa Vs. Sudhansu Sekhar Misra and Ors.2 referring to the observations made by Earl of Halsbury LC in Quinn Vs. Leathem3, it was stated thus :-

"12. ...A decision is only an authority for what it actually decides. What is of the essence in a decision is its ratio and not every observation found therein nor what logically follows from the various observations made in it. On this topic this is what Earl of Halsbury L.C. said in Quinn v. Leathem, 1901 AC 495."Now before discussing the case of Allen v. Flood, (1898) AC 1 and what was decided therein, there are two observations of a general character which I wish to make, and one is to repeat what I have very often said before, that every judgment must be read as applicable to the particular facts proved, or assumed to be proved, since the generality of the expressions which may be found there are not intended to be expositions of the whole law, but governed and qualified by the particular facts of the case in which such expressions are to be found. The other is that a case is only an authority for what it actually decides. I entirely deny that it can be quoted for a proposition that may seem to follow logically from it. Such a mode of reasoning assumes that the law is necessarily a logical Code, whereas every lawyer must acknowledge that the law is not always logical at all."
31. A similar view was taken in Union of India Vs. Amrit Lal Manchandra and others4, and after referring to the decisions in London Graving Dock Co. Ltd. Vs. Horton5, Home Office Vs. Dorcet Yacht Co.6 and Herrington Vs. British Railways Board7, it was stated that observations of Court must be read in the context in which they appear and that one additional or different fact may make a world of difference :-

"15. ...Courts should not place reliance on decisions without discussing as to how the factual situation fits in with the fact situation of the decision on which reliance is placed. 
Observations of Courts are neither to be read as Euclid's theorems nor as provisions of the statute and that too taken out of their context. These observations must be read in the context in which they appear to have been stated. Judgments of Courts are not to be construed as statutes. To interpret words, phrases and provisions of a statute, it may become necessary for Judges to embark into lengthy discussions but the discussion is meant to explain and not to define. Judges interpret statutes, they do not interpret judgments. They interpret words of statutes; their words are not to be interpreted as statutes. In London Graving Pock Co. Ltd. v. Horton (1951 AC 737 at p. 761), Lord Mac Dermot observed: 
"The matter cannot, of course, be settled merely by treating the ipsissima verba of Willes, J. as though they were part of an Act of Parliament and applying the rules of interpretation appropriate thereto. This is not to detract from the great weight to be given to the language actually used by that most distinguished Judges." 
16. In Home Office v. Dorset Yacht Co.(1970 (2) All ER 294), Lord Reid said, "Lord Atkin's speech....is not to be treated as if it was a statute definition. It will require qualification in new circumstances." Megarry, J. in (1971) 1 WLR 1062 observed. 
"One must not, of course, construe even a reserved judgment of even Russell L.J. as if it were an Act of Parliament." And, in Herrington v. British Railways Board (1972 (2) WLR 537) Lord Morris said:"There is always peril in treating the words of a speech or judgment as though they are words in a legislative enactment, and it is to be remembered that judicial utterances made in the setting of the facts of a particular case." 
17. Circumstantial flexibility, one additional or different fact may make a world of difference between conclusions in two cases. Disposal of cases by blindly placing reliance on a decision is not proper. 
18. The following words of Lord Denning in the matter of applying precedents have become locus classicus:"Each case depends on its own facts and a close similarity between one case and another is not enough because even a single significant detail may alter the entire aspect, in deciding such cases, one should avid the temptation to decide cases (as said by Cordozo) by matching the colour of one case against the colour of another. To decide therefore, on which side of the line a case falls, the broad resemblance to another case is not at all decisive."x x x"Precedent should be followed only so far as it marks the path of justice, but you must cut the dead wood and trim off the side branches else you will find yourself lost in thickets and branches. My plea is to keep the path to justice clear of obstructions which could impede it."

32. The precedents which have been referred to in the judgment under appeal being on a point of law which does not arise in the facts and situation of the present case reliance placed on the said decisions to arrive at a conclusion on a question which was not at issue is therefore misplaced and the judgment of the writ court cannot be sustained for the said reason.

33. We may now refer to the provisions of the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939 to advert to the question as to whether the petitioner would be entitled to the benefit of disability pension in terms of the provisions contained therein.

34. The grant of disability pension under the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939 is admissible in a case where government servant is boarded out of government service on account of his disablement due to wound, injury or disease. In terms of Rule 3-A(1)(a), disablement shall be accepted as due to government service, provided it is certified that it was due to wound, injury or disease which is attributable to government service, or existed before or arose during government service and has been and remains aggravated thereby. Further, sub-rule (2) of Rule 3-A provides that there has to be a causal connection between disablement and Government service for attributability to be conceded.


35. The guidelines for conceding attributability of disablement of government service, in the context of persons subject to the disciplinary code of the Central Armed Police Battalions (CAPB), have included the case of an accident which occurs while proceeding from duty station to leave station and on returning to duty from leave station at public expense. An accident which occurs when a person is not strictly 'on duty' as defined under clause 4(b), may also be attributable to service, provided it involved risk which was definitely enhanced in kind or degree by the nature, conditions, obligations or incidents of his service and that the same was not a risk common to human existence in modern conditions.

36. In the case at hand, the accident having occurred on a day when the petitioner was availing leave, howsoever liberally we may attempt to construe the provisions under the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, the petitioner would not by any stretch be held to be 'on duty' leading to a causal connection between disablement and government service for attributability to be conceded in any manner.

37. As per the petitioner's case also there is no assertion that the accident occurred while he was on his journey back home from his duty station, and the sole basis of the claim being founded on the stand that the leave being for a short period the petitioner may be considered 'on duty', the accident can in no manner be held to be attributable to Government service as per the provisions of the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, so as to sustain a claim for disability pension in terms thereof.

38. The judgment under appeal whereby directions have been issued to compute benefits payable to the petitioner in terms of the CCS (EOP) Rules, 1939, and to make payment of the same, therefore, cannot be sustained. The judgment of the learned Single Judge is liable to be set aside and is accordingly set aside.

39. The special appeal is allowed.

40. The writ petition stands dismissed.

Order Date :- 22.04.2020
Pratima


(Biswanath Somadder,J.)

(Dr.Y.K.Srivastava,J.)


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Disabled Soldiers & Politics of their Disability Pension

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a wonderful article by  Maj Navdeep Singh, a veteran and a fellow lawyer at Punjab and Haryana High Court. In this connection, you may also refer to  my earlier post dt. 26 Feb 2014 "DESW works against Ex-Servicemen disabled during service are worst hit".

Questions of compensation

India has the distinction of exhibiting disdain towards the cause of disabled soldiers

India is quite a paradox. There is excessive chest-thumping for our men and women in uniform on the one hand and pride in laying constant siege to the benefits and legal rights of those very personnel whom we superficially cheer while on parades on the other.

And bearing the brunt of this all are our disabled soldiers. The deleterious effect the stress and strain of military service has on a soldier’s health is a universally recognised phenomenon. In fact, most nations go out of the way to make the lives of their troops more comfortable — as seen in rising payouts for their loss of health. However, India has the distinction of exhibiting utter disdain towards the cause of disabled soldiers. At a very rudimentary level, for example, one has defence services accountants asking how ailments such as heart disease, neurosis, backache, seizures — common in civilians too — can be affected or aggravated by military service.

The service-disability connection

It is not difficult to discern that a highly unsettled and regimented life, away from family most of the year, and at times under the shadow of the gun, the inability to cope with domestic commitments, and a lack of community living, sexual fulfilment and physical proximity, curtailed freedoms and rights, can all lead to an aggravation of common medical conditions. The life of military personnel or even paramilitary troopers who are on duty almost 24 hours a day and who require permission to use even a washroom or visit a market after signing multiple registers, cannot be compared with civilians who live with their families and have fixed and reasonable working hours in a week.

Disability rules in India and other democracies are balanced and work on the presumption of a military service-disability connection. But the army of accountants and financial wizards often rejects such disability claims leading to numerous instances of judicial intervention. When disability benefits are awarded by courts and tribunals, there is more shock in store. The Ministry of Defence appeals against the claims of disabled, at times over amounts as little as a few hundred rupees. Between 2012-2013, 90 per cent of all appeals filed in the Supreme Court by the Ministry of Defence were against disabled soldiers. The efforts of the Defence Minister to control the litigation malaise are being met with strong resistance from the official-legal ecosystem which thrives on the miseries of disabled soldiers.

Paring pension rates
A recent example was the recommendation made in the Seventh Central Pay Commission to slash disability pension rates. The observation was that as there was an increase in the percentage of disabled officers in the defence services vis-à-vis the lower ranks, benefits needed to be slashed from the “percentage of pay system” to a “slab system” which would be more equitable for ranks other than officers. The recommendation was that from the current formula of “30% of pay for 100% disability”, the disability element should now be granted at the fixed rate of Rs. 27,000, Rs.17,000 and Rs.12,000 for Commissioned Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks respectively for 100 per cent disability, and proportionately reduced for lesser disability. Surprisingly, no such corresponding “equitable” change was recommended for civilian disability pensioners, including those from the Central Armed Police Forces, who continue to receive benefits on the basis of “percentage of pay”.

Statistically, there is a higher probability of officers incurring disability than jawans since the latter start retiring in their 30s after about 15-plus years of service. Officers retire in their 50s after a service period spanning 30 years or more. It shocks one that those who are maimed and infirm have to bear insults when instead there should be concern about the rise in stress and strain and a deteriorating health profile among defence personnel.

The recommendation was made suo motu based on data by the Defence Accounts Department to the commission and without being authenticated by the defence services. No opportunity was granted to discuss the issue. The accounting jugglery is even more jarring since the slab system would result in a better payout only to those rare cases where those in the lower ranks are medically boarded out at the start of their careers, while it results in a loss to all jawans who are released on completion of regular service terms. In the higher ranks, the difference is more glaring. A Lieutenant General who is 100 per cent disabled and drawing a disability element of Rs.52,560 as of December 31, 2015, would now get Rs.27,000 on January 1, 2016. His civilian counterpart, on a par earlier, would now get Rs.67,500. While the pay commission has handsomely increased all pensions, which includes civil disability, it has slashed those for military disability; in some instances by more than half. The fact that vested interests have twisted the issue on social media citing ‘government sources’ makes this even more unfortunate.

What is the use of all the pomp and show at military displays or basking in the glory of our military achievements if we cannot take care of our disabled soldiers? They may form a minuscule percentage, but they certainly deserve much better.

About Major Navdeep Singh - Major Singh is a veteran and an advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was the founding President of the Armed Forces Tribunal Bar Association, Chandigarh., and is Member of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War at Brussels

Source: The Hindu

Monday, November 2, 2015

Disability Pension is independent of length of service - Punjab & Haryana HC

Dear Friends,

You don't need a qualifying service to be eligible for disability pension, the P&H High Court has clarified. The Union of India’s defended that the petitioner had less than 10 years of qualifying service required under Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972 to be eligible for disability pension, which the court rejected.  

Disability pension not linked to length of service, says HC
Saurabh Malik, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30, 2015

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that disability pension has no connection with the length of service and is payable when an employee suffers from disability.

Forty years after a Border Security Force official was invalidated out from service with 100 per cent blindness, the high court also held him entitled to disability pension from the date of discharge.

The court was told that petitioner Amarjit Singh had suffered acute eyesight failure, while he was posted in high altitude area in the Ladkah sector. In December 1974, the Union of India issued a letter claiming that the petitioner was not entitled to pensionary benefits as per the Rules. Subsequently, he was invalidated out from service in February 1975. He was seeking disability pension from the date of discharge but without success.

The Union of India’s case was that the petitioner had less than 10 years of qualifying service required under Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972. Taking up the matter, the Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Raj Rahul Garg observed the question of qualifying service arose to earn pension or invalid pension on attaining the age of superannuation under the Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972.
But the writ petitioner was invalidated out from service on account of medical condition. Such discharge entitled all persons paid from civil estimates to extraordinary pension, which included disability pension.
The bench added: “We find that under the 1972 rules, invalid pension is availed by an employee if he seeks retirement on account of any bodily or mental infirmity.

The case

  • Forty years ago, BSF official was invalidated out from service with 100 per cent blindness
  • The court was told that petitioner Amarjit Singh had suffered eyesight failure, while he was posted in the Ladkah sector
  • In December 1974, the Centre issued a letter claiming that the petitioner was not entitled to pensionary benefits as per the rules


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

SC issues notices on PIL challenging meagre Disability Allowance

Hon'ble Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre and Govt. of Odisha on a PIL challenging the meagre monthly disability allowance given to the disabled which is not sufficient to even maintain a person for two days. Here is the news coverage from Times of India

SC takes up petition on disability allowance
Amit Anand Choudhury,TNN | Mar 31, 2015, 04.40 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Is Rs 300 monthly allowance given by government sufficient enough for a totally disabled person to live a decent life? 

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea of a 27-year old physically disabled woman from Odisha who pleaded that the meagre amount provided by state government is not enough and government should frame a policy for providing adequate financial assistance to people like her. 

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and R K Agrawal issued notice to Centre and Odisha government on a PIL filed by Surati who is suffering from a rare phocomelia disease due to which there was uneven growth of her limbs leaving her 100% disabled. The court asked them to file response on her PIL. 

Surati, daughter of a plumber who is working in National Heart Institute in Delhi, filed the petition through advocate Prachiti Deshpande. 

Deshpande told the bench that Surati is totally disabled since her birth and she is not able to maintain herself on the disability allowances provided by the government. The advocate contended that the family could not afford artificial limbs for her and the court should intervene in the issue. 

Surati has only 30% upper portion of right arms whereas her left hand is totally deformed. She has only two fingers which are joined permanently. Her left leg is normal but her right leg is short with no knee joint. 

"It is the prime duty of governments to protect the health and interests of weaker section of society particularly the persons suffering for severe permanent disablement and remain sick. She has not been able to live on her own accord due to the permanent disability and the obligation lies on the part of government to do the needful," she said in her petition. 

She contended that her parents are finding themselves unable to maintain her as her father is the sole earning member in the family of five people. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Deptt of Ex-Servicemen Welfare gets another rap from Supreme Court for denying benefits to disabled Soldiers


Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Posted: December 12, 2014 9:52 am

“They are in the line of fire. They sacrifice their life for you and for us. This is the least you could do for them.” It was the message by the Supreme Court to the Centre, which was fighting against the ex-servicemen of Army over a modest increase in their disability pension.

Coming to the rescue of around 15,000 soldiers, the court rejected an appeal by the government against an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which had extended the benefits of an extra amount in their pensions on account of disability due to service conditions.

On Wednesday, a bench led by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu expressed its disgruntlement over the government’s insistence on denying the benefit to the soldiers on the ground that it would burden the exchequer with an additional Rs. 1500 crore.

“So what? The government can have at least this much of budget for its soldiers who are dying for the people of this country everyday. What is the point of having these memorials and placards saluting our defence personnel if you litigate agianst the disabled soldiers till the Supreme Court. You should pay them,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri.

With the writing on the wall, the government’s law officer chose not to argue the appeal further and said they would comply with the order. The bench disposed of around 880 appeals against the AFT order on this issue.

Among those who will be benefited by this order is also Army’s former Vice-Chief Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, who lost his leg in a gun battle in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. Oberoi soldiered on without any financial benefit whilst in service but was categorised as 70 per cent disabled when he retired as the army’s vice chief in 2001.

When the 5th Pay Commission enhanced this to 75 per cent, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) refused to pay. On Oberoi’s petition, the Chandigarh bench of the AFT, in 2010 allowed “broad-banding” benefits to all disabled personnel irrespective of when they left service.

Under the “broad-banding” policy, three bands were to judge disability across the board. Up to 50 per cent disability, a person was to be given the benefits of a 50 percent disability holder; a person with 51-75 per cent disability was to be given 75 per cent disability benefits; while a person with 76-100 per cent disability was to be given 100 per cent disability benefits. The policy was introduced to avoid subjectivity and variance in calculating disability percentage.

This broad-banding was accepted and implemented by the MoD but the benefits were granted to only those who were removed from service by the government on medical grounds, and not to those who retired after their full service. The AFT removed this anomaly and held that all the soldiers shall get the benefit under the policy.

The Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), which comes under the MoD and looks into the grievances and other pension matters of retired defence personnel, filed an appeal against the AFT judgement in February 2012 despite an adverse opinion by the Army Headquarters.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Defence Personnel get a raw deal, disabled are worst hit

Please refer to my earlier post dated 11 Feb 2014 titled: Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare working against the interest of Disabled Soldiers

Defence Personnel  or Ex-Servicemen are at a great disadvantage in respect of pay, pension and medical benefits compared with civilian government employees. It is none other than their own department called Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare who is working against their interest and resorting to appeals against all orders of Armed Forces Tribunal that went in favour of the soldiers. 

FRONTLINE Article

Over the past five years, ex-servicemen have been agitating against the injustice meted out to them by the Central government. They have lost faith in the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), created specifically to take care of their welfare. Ex-servicemen have won 90 per cent of the cases filed in the Armed Forces Tribunals and the Supreme Court against the government, but the government has appealed in all the cases through the DESW.

The veterans have approached the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister to seek redress in numerous cases where they felt injustice had been done to them but to no avail. The Supreme Court’s judgments in their favour have either not been implemented or not been implemented in letter and spirit in cases pertaining to disability pensions, payment of arrears with retrospective effect from January 1, 2006, rank pay, and hospital charges on authorised Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) rates for medical treatment abroad.

The government files en masse appeals against retired defence personnel whenever any case relating to pension benefits is decided in their favour by any court of law or the Armed Forces Tribunal. Facing the brunt of the government’s apathy is the category of disabled and war-disabled soldiers. Most of the special leave petitions and appeals filed by the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court are against the grant of disability or war injury benefits to disabled and war-disabled soldiers. As a result, the veterans are forced into expensive litigation.

Over 3,000 cases decided in favour of defence personnel by the Armed Forces Tribunal have not been implemented; the Defence Ministry has contested all these judgments in the Supreme Court. Imagine the plight of a widow of a sepoy living in a far-flung rural area. How is she going to find the resources to fight her case in the Supreme Court? The tribunals were created for delivering speedy justice to defence personnel at minimum cost. But the Ministry’s decision to appeal against the tribunal’s judgments has not only delayed justice but also made it near impossible for the defence personnel to fight their cases. The Armed Forces Tribunals do not have contempt powers to get their judgments implemented whereas Central Administrative Tribunals (CATs) are vested with such powers.

This is the biggest cause of heart burning in the military community today. Military personnel with non-service-related disabilities discharged with less than 10 years of service remaining are not entitled to any form of pension, whereas the employment of civilian employees who “acquires a disability during his service” is protected under Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

As per the Sixth Central Pay Commission recommendations, all government servants are allowed three assured career progressions. Civilians who retire at the age of 60 are allowed promotions at 10, 20 and 30 years of service, and soldiers at eight, 16 and 24 years. However, since jawans are forced to retire early, largely between 15 and 19 years of service, to keep up the young profile of the forces, they miss out on at least one assured career progression, unlike their civil counterparts, who serve their full term until superannuation. It has been proposed to the government that the third career progression should be given to jawans automatically; they should be promoted to the rank of naib subedar at the time of retirement. Surprisingly, this demand has not been accepted.

Widow’s pension

Widow’s pension is one area of concern to the defence community that has received little attention from the government. A sepoy’s widow pension has remained a meagre Rs.3,500 a month while other sections of government employees have received periodic increases in such pension. The minimum family pension in respect of defence widows must be enhanced from Rs.3,500 to Rs.10,000 a month.

It is common knowledge that soldiers retire ahead of their time. What is not known, however, is that their life expectancy is shorter than that of civilians. The Institute of Applied Research in Manpower Analysis (IARM), which studied the lifespan of civilian employees at the behest of the Fifth Pay Commission, arrived at 77 years as the average life expectancy of a civilian government servant. The Railways conducted a similar exercise for their personnel and assessed that they achieved an average lifespan of 78 years. No such study was conducted for defence personnel since it was generally believed that soldiers lived longer than civilians. However, Major General (retired) Surjit Singh, AVSM (Athi Vishisht Seva Medal), VSM (Vishisht Seva Medal), who headed the Army Cell of the Fifth Pay Commission, carried out a detailed study in 2005 along with other experts. The study revealed that the average lifespan of defence officers was 72.5 years; that of junior commissioned officers (JCOs) 67 years; and that of other ranks was between 59.6 and 64 years.

These findings were forwarded to the Chief of the Army Staff General J.J. Singh on July 7, 2005, by Lieutenant General (retd) M.M. Lakhera, PVSM (Param Vishisht Seva Medal), AVSM, VSM, who was Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. The findings were reported by all national newspapers and a question was asked in Parliament on the subject. Pranab Mukherjee, who was the Defence Minister then, maintained that the issue would be examined in detail. Nothing was heard about it after that.

Stress and strain of early retirement is one of the major reasons for the lower life expectancy among the defence personnel. Their legitimate demand for an assured second career until the age of 60 through an Act of Parliament has not yet been accepted.

While the pensions of all ranks were enhanced with effect from September 24, 2012, to redress the anomaly of the Sixth Pay Commission, the request to enhance the pension of JCOs proportionately was not granted. Majors with 13 years and more of service who retired before 2004 have been denied the benefit of the rank of lieutenant colonel (that is, the benefit of pay band-4 in the revised scale of the Sixth Pay Commission).

The government’s policy to grant lieutenant colonel rank on completion of 13 years of service was made applicable with effect from 2004. It would have been only just to grant all those who retired before 2004 in the rank of major with 13 years of commissioned service (this number being finite) the benefit of pension on the scale of lieutenant colonel. The strong plea in this regard has not been accepted.

Also, the non-functional upgrade (NFU) granted to civilian employees has been denied to defence personnel, thereby putting them at a disadvantage.

One Rank One Pension

One of the major demands of veterans is same pension for same rank and same length of service, that is, same rank + same length of service = same pension, irrespective of the date of retirement. They want a legislative guarantee to this. Although all major political parties have agreed to this in principle and frequently incorporate it in their election manifestos, this 40-year-old demand has not been implemented. The bureaucratic excuses in the form of administrative, legal and financial hurdles in implementing the demand were heard in detail in 2011 by the Rajya Sabha Petition Committee set up to look into all aspects of the demand and rejected them in the strongest terms. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had agreed to this provision in principle, but her untimely death scuttled the proposal. Successive Standing Committees on Defence and the Rajya Sabha Petition Committee have recommended this but to no avail.

Before 2006, the difference in the pensions of Major General and Lieutenant General was only Rs.1,400. Subsequently, it became Rs.700. With the extension of higher administrative grade (HAG) and HAG+ to the rank of Lieutenant General and above, the difference in pension is more than Rs.8,000 even after the increase with effect from September 24, 2012. The government has overlooked the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, which suggested that all government employees with a basic pay of Rs. 20,000 and above be clubbed under the same pay band. Major Generals retire with a basic pay of Rs.22,400 and above while Lieutenant Generals retire with a basic pay of Rs.23,500 and above. Non-inclusion of major generals in HAG has caused an anomaly.

On losing the case, the Defence Ministry filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, denying enhanced arrears to army pensioners as ordered by the Delhi High Court with retrospective effect from January 1, 2006, instead of September 24, 2012.

Civilian employees are provided health care under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) while ex-servicemen are covered under the ECHS. The provision of budget for the CGHS is calculated (for 2013-14) at the rate Rs.10,700 for every beneficiary while for the ECHS, it has been budgeted at Rs.3,150 a beneficiary. As a result, super-speciality hospitals do not offer themselves for ECHS empanelment. Over 80 per cent of the health care units have withdrawn from empanelment in view of delayed payment of bills and inadequate rates for various medical procedures. This has resulted in unsatisfactory or poor medical care for ex-servicemen. Sophisticated procedures have not been included in the ECHS. The veterans’ request for inclusion of the latest medical procedures on the ECHS benefits list has not been accepted yet. Ex-servicemen had requested that the budget be enhanced and not be less than the CGHS rates.

Here is an example to illustrate the poor nature of health care benefits provided by the government to ex-servicemen. Non-availability of funds with the ECHS and, as a consequence, non-payment of hospital dues made an empanelled hospital in Gurgaon in the National Capital Region to stop accepting patients for cashless medical treatment. Ex-Subedar Prakash Chandra Tomar from Meerut was brought to the hospital in a serious condition on December 8, 2013, which as per the ECHS scheme is permitted. The family was asked by the hospital authorities to deposit the money for the treatment or transfer the patient to some other hospital. Since the condition of the patient was serious, the family raised a loan and deposited Rs.11 lakh for 20 days of hospitalisation and treatment.

When the family was in no position to arrange further funds, Tomar’s son, Raj Kumar Tomar, approached the Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement (IESM) and the case was taken up with the Managing Director of the ECHS, who promised to get cashless treatment. But he did not succeed. The family deposited another Rs.2 lakh in the hospital. On January 1, Subedar Prakash died. The hospital did not accede to the request of the ECHS to release the body and insisted that the family clear the hospital bills.

In November 2008, the government had announced that in future there would be a separate pay commission for the defence forces. The defence fraternity feels betrayed as the government has not constituted a separate pay commission, and, as in the case of the previous commissions, there is no representation for defence forces in the newly constituted Seventh Pay Commission. Some 39 anomalies in defence pensions are yet to be resolved and with no defence representation in the new pay commission, more anomalies are likely to appear thereby increasing the magnitude of injustice already done to defence pensioners.

Denial of voting rights

It is surprising that serving defence personnel are denied the right to get themselves registered as voters at the place of posting. In spite of a clear judgment by the Supreme Court in 1971, this basic right has not been extended to soldiers. The option of postal ballot and proxy voting available to serving soldiers has not proved effective. There is no restriction imposed in the Representation of the People Act, 1950, to deny this right to defence personnel. There is an urgent need to restore this right immediately to allow serving soldiers to vote at their place of posting in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The prevailing security environment calls for strong measures to upgrade the country’s defence preparedness in terms of manpower, equipment and weapon systems. Equally important are measures to keep the soldier’s morale high.

Source: Frontline

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare working against interests of Disabled Soldiers

This is how our bureaucracy treats the disabled! If any ex-serviceman and disabled soldier moves a case for disability  pension benefits against Ministry of Defence, he will be challenged all the way up to Supreme Court, ruled the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) - a wing of Min. of Defence on 02 Jan 14.

In other words, a disabled soldier or war veteran either accepts what is doled out as charity or be ready to fight a losing battle even after winning the case in Armed Forces Tribunal in next two superior courts. Reason- Babus feel that reference to legal opinion is time consuming and involves lot of paper work hence the department will appeal automatically against each case won by the soldiers- first in High Court and then in SC. That means babus will pay hefty fee (from tax payers' money) to the standing counsels but not release legal dues ordered by its own Tribunal to the deserving soldiers...!  It is not a challenging guess as to how many disabled soldiers or veterans can afford to keep fighting from the Armed Forces Tribunal to the High Court to the Supreme Court!

An elected representative in parliament went on to write that the impugned order smacked of callousness and high handedness on the part of the Government and that the order would aggravate the misery of those who have lost their limbs or eyesight or sustained any other grievous harm in the service of the nation.

Its only after the hue and cry for over a month against MoD's heartless and desperate effort to "tire the disabled out" in the autumn of their lives, the defence minister has personally intervened.

Thank you Mr. Antony for intervening and withdrawing this most unreasonable rule thrown at the face of those who gave the nation their prime time of life, though after more than a month!

See Related Links:

Disabled Ex-servicemen get breather from Antony
http://epaper.mailtoday.in/showtext.aspx?boxid=34956953&parentid=90673&issuedate=1122014

Army Chief to Protest Defence Ministry treatment of Ex-servicemen
http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/army-chief-to-protest-defence-ministry-treatment-of-ex-servicemen-114011500026_1.html  

Resolve issue of pension of disabled soldiers: Smriti to govt.
http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/resolve-issue-of-pension-of-disabled-soldiers-smriti-to-govt/1156349/0

Voluntarily retired soldiers entitled to disability pension

Now, all disabled soldiers to get disability pension
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-04/india/33034927_1_disabled-soldiers-disability-pension-lt-gen-ns-brar







Monday, July 18, 2011

Disability pension only if disability is attributable to military service, rules SC

Dear Friends,


Please refer to my earlier post dated 28 October 2010 when Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that a Soldier should be entitled to disability pension if disability occurs during service, even while on leave - whether or not it is attributable to military service.


However, after the Army went in appeal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the SC in a recent judgement has clarified that for the injury not attributable to the military duty, the defence personnel are only entitled to full normal pension and not to any additional disabilty pension!


To read the news from source click here: The Hindu


regards
SC Vashishth, Advocate

“Disability pension to soldiers only if injury sustained on duty”



For injury not attributable to the service, personnel only entitled to full normal pension!
A military personnel is entitled to ‘disability pension’ only if the injury is sustained during the course of military duty and not for one sustained in an accident when he is on leave, away from the place of work, the Supreme Court has held.  A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and A.K. Patnaik said if the injury was not attributable to the service and was not connected with the service, a personnel would only be entitled to “full normal pension” as per the regulations.
In the instant case, the respondent Jujhar Singh joined the Army in 1978. On March 26, 1987, when he was on annual leave to his native place, he met with an accident and sustained severe injuries and was admitted in a hospital from March 26 to January 20, 1989.   Initially, his disability was assessed at 20 per cent and later at 60 per cent and he retired on July 1, 1998 and was granted full normal pension.  His plea for disability pension was awarded by a single judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and confirmed by a Division Bench. The present appeal by the Union of India is directed against this judgment.  
It was argued by the Centre that the injuries sustained by the respondent were not attributable to the service and were not connected with it.  The disability had neither occurred in the course of employment nor attributable to or aggravated by military service and hence, he was not entitled to disability pension.  Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court said: “It is not in dispute that the respondent was on annual leave when he met with a scooter accident as a pillion rider and sustained injuries at his native place. He was not on military duty at the time of the accident in terms of Para 12 (d) of Entitlement Rules, 1982.   ‘
“In view of the same, the injuries sustained cannot be held to be attributable to the military service. The opinion of the Medical Board makes it clear that the injury, particularly, the fracture, is not attributable to service and it is not connected with service.”   Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said the disability of the respondent was not covered under Regulation 179 of the Pension Regulations for the Army (Part I) 1961.  The Bench said: “The medical authorities have recorded a specific finding to the effect that the disability is neither attributable to nor was aggravated by the military service. This fact has not been appreciated either by the Single Judge or by the Division Bench of the High Court.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Disability Pension if Army Personal injured while on leave

Dear Friends,

This judgement comes in contrast to other judgement especially of the Delhi High Court which highlighted that the disability should be attributable to military service. From that angle, I feel the Punjab and Haryana High Court has given its judgements taking the holistic view of social justice provisions to those who are in the service of protecting the nation while disagreeing totally with Delhi High Court judgement.

I am hopeful that this trend will boost the morale of the combatant members of the  Armed Forces and Hon'ble Supreme Court will also take an appropriate view in the matter giving benefit to the soldiers when this matter reaches them in appeal. For the update on this matter in the Supreme Court, please refer to my post dated 18 July 2011.

regards
SC Vashishth

Here is the current coverage of the case:


The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that Army personnel will be entitled to disability pension if injured in an accident while on annual/casual leave. As of now, Army personnel who suffer injury during annual leave are denied disability pension.

The order of the Full Bench of the High Court comprising Justices A K Goel, Alok Singh and K Kannan is significant as it disagrees with a judgment given by Full Bench of the Delhi HC on the same issue. With two Full Benches having divergent judgments on the issue, the question of law is all set to be decided by the Supreme Court.

In its 25-page judgment, the Full Bench made it clear that an Army personnel who suffers an injury or meets with an accident during leave will be entitled to disability pension only if the activity, during which he suffers the injury, is compatible with a military activity. For instance, if an Army personnel meets with an accident on leave, he is entitled to disability pension. But he will not be entitled to disability pension if he is injured while engaged in an activity which is not compatible with military service, or gets drunk and enters into a brawl.

The order came on two set of petitions filed by the Union of India against two Army personnel namely former sepoy Sumanjit Singh and former naib subedar Khusbash Singh.



Tribune News Service, Chandigarh, April 5

Army personnel on casual or annual leave shall be considered on duty in case of any mishap, a three-Judge Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled.

The Bench made it clear that to decide their disability pension entitlement, it was to be seen whether the disability was attributable to or aggravated by military service.

With this, the Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice K Kannan and Justice Alok Singh has put to rest the controversy on disability pension entitlement of Army personnel suffering disability in accidents while on leave. So far, more often than not they were denied disability pension on the ground of not being on duty, while on leave.

The assertion comes with a rider. The Bench has clarified the only exception is “when by the virtue of Rule 11 of the leave rules, he could not be deemed to be on duty, if he had not actually performed duty in that year”.

The ruling came on a bunch of two petitions by the Union of India against two Army personnel. “In both cases, the disability had arisen through accidents during leave.”

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Kannan asserted: “If the Army personnel were on duty and they suffer disability due to natural causes, the issue whether it was attributable to or aggravated by military service will be examined by taking the case of Army personnel as they were and examining whether it was intervention of the Army service that caused the disability….

“In cases where the injury that resulted in the disability was due to an accident, which was not due to natural, pathological, physiological or psychological cause, the question that has to be answered is whether the activity or conduct that led to the accident was the result of any activity that is even remotely connected to military service.

“An activity of an independent business, or avocation or calling that would be inconsistent to military service, and an accident occurring during such activity, cannot be attributable to military service,” the Bench concluded.

Disability Pension

However, to decide their disability pension entitlement in case of any mishap, it is to be seen whether the disability is attributable to or aggravated by military service

Rider in the ruling is “when by the virtue of Rule 11 of the leave rules, he could not be deemed to be on duty, if he had not actually performed duty in that year”


Earlier Delhi High Court Order 


The Delhi High Court has ruled that an Army man cannot claim disability pension for an injury resulting from an activity not connected with military service.

New Delhi, Aug 24 : The Delhi High Court has ruled that an Army man cannot claim disability pension for an injury resulting from an activity not connected with military service.

A Special Bench comprising Justices Vikramjit Sen, Sanjeev Khanna and S L Bhayana passed the verdict following a difference of opinion between the judges in a Division Bench.

While referring to a Supreme Court ruling the Special Bench observed, "Injury or death resulting from an activity not connected with military service would not justify and sustain a claim for disability pension."

"This is so regardless of whether the injury or death has occurred at the place of posting or during the working hours," the Bench added.

The Court dismissed a plea of ex Naik Dilbagh for disability pension in addition to family pension. Dilbagh, in a petition, claimed for the disability pension after he had received a head injury in a road accident on Delhi-Panipat road while going to a school for the admission of his child on December 25, 1993.

Dilbagh was on a casual leave from December 12 to 29, 1993 at the time of the accident.