Family members of Territorial Army Personnel after being disembodied from service entitled to pension

Supreme Court: Deciding an appeal challenging the judgment passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal where the application for seeking pension on husband’s death was dismissed, the bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and R. Banumathi, J., allowed the ex-gratia grant of 10 Lakh to the appellants.

In the case, where the wife sought family pension for the death of her husband, it was contended that denial of family pension to the ‘next of kin’ of territorial army personnel who died after being disembodied from service is against the Article 14 of the Constitution. It was further contended that the Pension regulation for Army, 1961 apply to both regular army personnel and personnel of territorial army. On the contrary, the respondants contended that as per existing Pension Regulations, the territorial army personnel who died during disembodied state without completing fifteen years of embodied service are not entitled to receive service pensions. Also, emphasis was laid to Section 2 of Regulation 62 of ‘Ordinary Family Pension’ which states that ‘the regulations shall not apply to the members of territorial army other than those who die while rendering embodied service.

Considering the above mentioned contentions and the Report of Ministry of Defence for Reduction of Litigation, Review of Service & Pension Matters 2015 which states that ‘if the families of regular military personnel who die on leave are entitled to receive pension then by same logic even families of Territorial Army personnel are also entitled’, the Court, in the interest of justice and in exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India awarded grant of rupees ten lakhs payable to the appellant as against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal.[Santosh Devi v Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 479 , decided on May 6, 2016].

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