Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Bench of S.V.S. Rathore, J. and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Member) dismissed a Lance Naik’s claim for pension on the ground that he had been declared as a deserter and dismissed from service.

Petitioner herein joined the Indian Army on 31-10-1985 and was sanctioned casual leaves for five days from 08-05-2001 to 12-05-2001. During the course of casual leave, he became mentally disturbed and could not reach his home. In the year 2003, after recovering, he reported to his unit on 25-03-2003. Petitioner pleaded that he was entitled to service pension as he had completed 15 years of service; but since no pension was sanctioned in his favour, he filed a writ petition in the High Court of Allahabad. The said Court transferred his petition to this Tribunal under Section 34 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

Respondents’ contention was that petitioner did not report back after availing casual leave therefore, he was declared a deserter and apprehension roll was issued against him on 28-05-2001. He was advised to report to his unit, but the petitioner never approached his unit and continued to remain a deserter. Thus, he was dismissed from service with effect from the date of his desertion and, since his entire service was confiscated, he was not entitled to any pension.

The Tribunal noted that the petitioner had been declared as a deserter and dismissed from service under Section 20 (3) of the Army Act. He claimed for a pension without challenging his dismissal order and hence the said dismissal order had become final. It was concluded that since the petitioner had been dismissed from service, therefore, in view of provisions contained under Regulation 113 (a) of Pension Regulations for Army, 2008, his entire service stood confiscated and he had no pensionable service to his credit.

In view of the above, the instant application was dismissed.[Lal Chand Ram v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 2, Order dated 07-02-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Deciding the question as to the scope of power of Armed Forces Tribunal to hear the appeals arising out of court martial verdicts qua GREF personnel, the Court held that denial of jurisdiction to the said tribunal would be contrary to the Army Act, 1950 and the provisions engrafted under the Armed Forces Tribunals Act, 2007. It was held that the right to approach the AFT by the personnel of GREF who are tried by a court martial held under the very same Act has to be recognized. It was, however, clarified, that at the same time if the punishment is imposed on GREF personnel by way of departmental proceedings held under the CCS(CCA) Rules, 1965 the same cannot be agitated before the AFT and AFT shall have no jurisdiction to hear and decide grievances of GREF personnel relating to their terms and conditions of service or alternatively put ‘service matters’.

The bench of Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit, JJ explained that the 2007 Act has been made applicable to persons subject to the Army Act, 1950, the Navy Act, 1957 and the Air Force Act, 1950, the retired personnel subject to these Acts including their dependants, heirs and successors insofar as it relates to their service matters. The tribunal constituted in terms of Sections 4 and 5 thereof, is vested with twin jurisdiction viz., jurisdiction, powers and authority in service matters as provided in Section 14 and the jurisdiction in matter of appeal against courts martial under Section 15 of the Act.

It was further stated that the 1950 Act and the Army Rules, 1954 have been applied to civilian personnel of the GREF only for the purpose of discipline. The reasons are obvious. The GREF is a force raised and maintained under the authority of the Central Government, its units are set up on the lines of the Indian Army, it works with and under close coordination with regular army in border areas, facilitates the Indian Army to carry out its operational role, etc. Hence, it has been felt appropriate that the 1950 Act should be made applicable to a force raised and maintained by the Central Government as considered necessary in the interest of discipline. The issue can be perceived from a different perspective. The GREF personnel are subjected by legislative scheme to dual disciplinary control, and such an arrangement is permissible

Hence, if an offence is committed in relation to an enemy, offences on active service, mutiny, desertion, disobedience, etc., considering the nature and gravity of the offence, it may warrant severe action against the delinquent by way of trial by a court martial. In other disciplinary cases, the competent authority may decide to proceed under CCS(CCA) Rules, 1965 in which the maximum permissible punishment is only ‘dismissal from service’. [Mohammed Ansari v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 83, decided on 02.02.2017]