Showing posts with label disabled soldiers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disabled soldiers. Show all posts

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

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







Thursday, November 15, 2012

Non discrimination, UN CRPD and Disabled Soldiers in India

Dear Friends,

The two most enabling sections of the The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 i.e. section 33 (Employment Chapter) and section 47 (Non Discrimination Chapter) have been made redundant by their disabling proviso which I call as Black proviso i.e.  "Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any department or establishment, by notification subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section."

This black provisio continues in the new draft Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2012  ready to be tabled in the parliament in different sections. The biggest victim of this proviso under Section 47,  have been those brave citizen of this vast nation who risked their lives to preserve the integrity of their motherland while being in defense forces, para-military forces & police departments and acquired disabilities - both minor or severe. The effect of this black proviso has been catastrophic on the morale of those who are out there on the borders to defend the nation or stationed in troubled areas to control the  law and order and save the democracies.

What will happen to me and my family if I become disabled during the course of duty or during my job? Am I being treated like my civilian counter parts when it comes to the social protection or non-discrimination? .... such questions plague the psyche of the ordinary officers of our forces - thanks to the black proviso and the subsequent notification by the Govt. of India under the said proviso declaring the defense forces to be kept out of the ambit of the protections available under this section.

Civilian Employees Versus Combatant Employees

Lets understand how the two employees - one civilian and one from the forces is treated under section 47 of the disabilities Act:

The section mandates as below:

"47. Non-discrimination in Government Employment - (1) No establishment shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service:

Provided that, if an employee, after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits:
Provided further that if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he attains the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier.
(2) No promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of his disability:

Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any establishment, by notification and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section.  (most misused proviso)

Now if it was a civilian employee under the government, on acquiring a disability due to any reason, his pay scale and service benefits remain protected even if the disability sustained limits the functional capacities of the person to an extent that he/she can not be adjusted against any existing post. Such a person remains on a supernumerary post until a post is found out or till he attains age of superannuation.

On the contrary, an employee from the forces, on acquiring a disability - whether during the course of duty or during any mishap when not on duty is invariably  medically  boarded out with a paltry disability pension and left to fend for himself in the grim employment scenario. The family members and dependents suffer due to sudden calamity and the person becomes a liability for the family in absence of strong social security provisions. 

Why the talented youth is not attracted to Forces any more

Given an option, any talented young person would prefer a civil employment to an employment in the forces since the forces have not thought to respect for the sacrifices or say the human rights, social security and non-discrimination clauses of the central laws and international human right conventions. The youth of today knows there is no future in the forces. Worst - in case of a mishap - death or disability is inevitable. And both  will take away the bread winner of the family with no social protections.

Need to think out of box in light of UN CRPD

We as a nation has to think what we offer to our sons and daughters  who risk their lives for the country in comparison to a civilian on duty. Also we have to walk the talk since India is among first few handful countries  who signed the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the very first day of its opening for signature and subsequently ratified the same. However, we continue to discriminate on the basis of disability when it comes to government employment in forces.

The UN Convention defines "Discrimination on the basis of disability" means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation;

Some possibilities worth considering

Not all jobs in the forces are of combatant nature and many involve desk jobs such administration, logistics, equipment, stores, purchase and several others. This means that the exemption given under the garb of black proviso, can be easily withdrawn and combatants acquiring disabilities can be adjusted in non-combatant jobs/branches. 

If the Government feels that it may compromise with the war preparedness of the forces, it may also consider keeping all such severely disabled combatant employees on supernumerary posts with full pay scale and other benefits. While those who are with disabilities that allow sufficient functional abilities to be gainfully occupied in the desk operations, should be accommodated in the base units/formations.

This can help fill up the huge shortfall in the forces by motivating the youth and assuring them that they would not be discriminated if they become disabled while in service- whether the injury was or not attributable to service.

This would ensure that our forces do not discriminate on the basis of disability and are in conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There have been several examples in the defence forces where combatants who acquired disability during action were retained and such a trend is very good, however, one should not be forced to go to Armed Forces Tribunal each time to obtain right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law (Art 14 of the Constitution) and Article 5 (equality and non-discrimination) of the UNCRPD.

We don't need to wait for the new draft law to come in to being to enforce this and it can be simply done by withdrawing the "Black Proviso" and the Notification of Exemption accordingly encapsulating the above.

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.