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Second wife of Muslim military personnel entitled to health benefits, family pension: AFT

The petitioner retired in the rank of Lt Col and thereafter he married again while maintaining the matrimonial relationship with his first wife.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Published: August 24, 2016 2:55 am
Armed Forces Tribunal Even the Army Headquarters clarified to the ECHS and PCDA, after receiving advice from the Judge Advocate General’s Department, that the second marriage was absolutely legal and that the second wife was also eligible for sharing family pension in the event of widowhood.

The principal bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that the second wife of a Muslim military personnel, who marries for the second time while maintaining his first wife, is eligible to receive benefits of the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) and can also be given family pension benefits.

Hering a petition filed by Lt Col Sardar Ahmed Khan (retd), the New Delhi bench of the AFT comprising Justice SS Satheesachandran and Air Marshal JN Burma has ruled that the second wife of the officer was entitled to be considered as a dependent of the officer and would be eligible to receive benefits of the health scheme as well as to be nominated in the Pension Payment Order (PPO) to receive her share of family pension once the officer is deceased.

The petitioner retired in the rank of Lt Col and thereafter he married again while maintaining the matrimonial relationship with his first wife. While he was in service, his first wife had been nominated as his dependent for the purposes of PPO to be issued and for being eligible for medical benefits under ECHS. Being a Muslim he could legally marry a second time and therefore he applied to the authorities to include his second wife’s name also for her share in family pension, in case of death of the pensioner,and also to make her a member of ECHS.

However, his request for an ECHS card for his second wife was turned down with the observation that only one spouse was eligible to receive the benefit of the scheme. He also approached the Principal Controller Defence Accounts (PCDA), Allahabad, for getting benefits for his second wife but these were also of no avail. Even the Army Headquarters clarified to the ECHS and PCDA, after receiving advice from the Judge Advocate General’s Department, that the second marriage was absolutely legal and that the second wife was also eligible for sharing family pension in the event of widowhood. However, despite this advice, the PCDA did not issue the necessary orders forcing the officer to approach the AFT.

In its detailed order, the AFT bench has noted that the authorities took a stand that the second wife could not receive the ECHS membership card till her name was included in the PPO. On the other hand, the PCDA took a stand that the name of the second wife could not be included in the PPO till the husband dies. The bench dismissed this stance of the PCDA and observed that it was patently incorrect. “The applicant has a valid right to seek for her to be including her as his dependent and issue of ECHS card and for modification/correction of the PPO for including her along with the first wife for claiming pension”.

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  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Aug 24, 2016 at 4:46 am
    Senseless decision...mere stupidity..this special status to Muslim community is going to ruin our country some day...uniform civil law is must..
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    1. I
      indian
      Aug 24, 2016 at 12:21 am
      I applaud this man for his military service but feel it's unfair fir the taxpayer to support all his wives with benefits.
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      1. J
        Jacob
        Aug 23, 2016 at 9:30 pm
        Nice try. In other faiths you go to jail for polygamy. Even a Muslim women goes to jail if found with more than one husband. This is only slavery of women by Muslim man. So do you say the same thing when all terrorists who are Muslims perform terrorist acts? And almost all of them are Sunni Muslims. Do you say What about other faith? Well there is no other faith when it comes to terrorism or polygamy. It's called legal slaving by Muslim mullah. Get used to it. Off course most of them are Sunni.
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          Amar Akbar
          Aug 23, 2016 at 4:51 pm
          As per Islamic Sharia only Muslim man is allowed to have multiple wives. Not Muslim women she cannot have more than one husband or lover.
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            Amar Akbar
            Aug 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm
            Sectarian vi0lence in stan refers to attaks by Sunni against people and places in stan motivated by antagonism toward Shia, and the small Ahmadi, Hindu and Christian religious groups. As many as 4,000 people are estimated to have been kiIIed in Shia-Sunni sectarian fighting in stan between 1987–2007. And since 2008 "thousands of Shia" have been kiIIed by Sunni extremists according to the human rights group Human Rights Watch.
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