The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has directed that an Air Force Sergeant’s widow be paid special family pension after rejecting the contention of the Indian Air Force (IAF) that she was not eligible for it because her husband died of electrocution during lunch break and was, thus, not on official duty.
An AFT bench in New Delhi decided the petition in favour of Usha Sharma, whose husband Sergeant VK Sharma died of electrocution in 2001 at his official accommodation provided by the IAF. The record office of the IAF rejected her claim for special family pension in 20013 and gave her only ordinary family pension. In 2010, the Air Headquarters also rejected Usha Sharma’s claim for an appointment on compassionate grounds.
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In its judgement, the AFT bench has said the petitioner should be provided special family pension with arrears of three years preceding her filing the peition, as also an interest at the rate of nine per cent on the same. It has also ordered that the IAF authorities should take a decision on ex-gratia lump sum payment to the lady and that the same should be conveyed with a reasoned order within a period of three months from the judgment.
An IAF Court of Inquiry held into the cause of death of Sergeant VK Sharma had concluded in 2001 that he had died of electrocution due to low voltage and that his death was not attributable to military service. Thus, this finding of the inquiry left his widow ineligible for the grant of special family pension. His widow’s claim for the special pension was also rejected on the grounds that the incident took place at his house during lunch break.