AFT | Disability accrued by a person during military service is entitled to disability element of pension

Armed Force Tribunal: A Division Bench of Justice Sunita Gupta (Member) and Lt. Gen. Philip Campose (Member) allowed an application under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 to claim disability pension. The applicant was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in Logistics Branch in a sound mental condition. In the course of his service, he was diagnosed with Primary Hypertension and was superannuated with his disability which was assessed at thirty percent for life. This claim was rejected by the respondents on the ground that the disability was ‘Neither Attributable to, Nor Aggravated by Military Service’ as per the Medical Board examination, which is an expert body. The applicant relied on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Dharamvir Singh v. Union of India, (2013) 7 SCC 316 which held that the question of whether a disability is attributable or aggravated by military service is to be determined under Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pensionary Awards, 1982. Under these rules, if a member is subsequently discharged from their service on medical grounds, any deterioration on their health is presumed due to service. The logic is that if no disability or disease was detected at the time of the individual’s acceptance, it is deemed to have arisen in the service.

In the present case, the Tribunal addressed other recommendations made by the Committee of experts constituted by the Ministry of Defence. The expert committee has recommended that whenever a legal principle is settled by a High Court or Supreme Court, the same must be universally applied to all primarily placed employees for efficient redressal of grievances related to service and pension matters. The Tribunal Finally held that the disability accrued by the applicant was during the course of Military Service and he is thus entitled to disability element of pension at thirty percent for life which is liable to be broadband to 50 percent too.[S Sriram v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 3490, decided on 05-07-2019]

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