Supreme Court rejects Centre’s appeal denying benefit to disabled soldiers

The AFT had extended the benefits of an extra amount in their pensions on account of disability.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:December 12, 2014 9:52 am

“They are in the line of fire. They sacrifice their life for you and for us. This is the least you could do for them.” It was the message by the Supreme Court to the Centre, which was fighting against the ex-servicemen of Army over a modest increase in their disability pension.

Coming to the rescue of around 15,000 soldiers, the court rejected an appeal by the government against an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which had extended the benefits of an extra amount in their pensions on account of disability due to service conditions.

On Wednesday, a bench led by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu expressed its disgruntlement over the government’s insistence on denying the benefit to the soldiers on the ground that it would burden the exchequer with an additional Rs. 1500 crore.

“So what? The government can have at least this much of budget for its soldiers who are dying for the people of this country everyday. What is the point of having these memorials and placards saluting our defence personnel if you litigate agianst the disabled soldiers till the Supreme Court. You should pay them,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri.

With the writing on the wall, the government’s law officer chose not to argue the appeal further and said they would comply with the order. The bench disposed of around 880 appeals against the AFT order on this issue.

Among those who will be benfitted by this order is also Army’s former Vice-Chief Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, who lost his leg in a gun battle in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. Oberoi soldiered on without any financial benefit whilst in service but was categorised as 70 per cent disabled when he retired as the army’s vice chief in 2001.

When the 5th Pay Commission enhanced this to 75 per cent, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) refused to pay. On Oberoi’s petition, the Chandigarh bench of the AFT, in 2010 allowed “broad-banding” benefits to all disabled personnel irrespective of when they left service.

Under the “broad-banding” policy, three bands were to judge disability across the board. Up to 50 per cent disability, a person was to be given the benefits of a 50 percent disability holder; a person with 51-75 per cent disability was to be given 75 per cent disability benefits; while a person with 76-100 per cent disability was to be given 100 per cent disability benefits. The policy was introduced to avoid subjectivity and variance in calculating disability percentage.

This broad-banding was accepted and implemented by the MoD but the benefits were granted to only those who were removed from service by the government on medical grounds, and not to those who retired after their full service. The AFT removed this anomaly and held that all the soldiers shall get the benefit under the policy.

The Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), which comes under the MoD and looks into the grievances and other pension matters of retired defence personnel, filed an appeal against the AFT judgement in February 2012 despite an adverse opinion by the Army Headquarters.

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  1. H
    H/capt P John
    Jul 30, 2017 at 1:31 pm
    My Name Is Hony Capt P John I retired on 30 Nov 2003 with Left hand blast injury presently i am getting 30 disability Attribute military service This is happened while handling Terrorists placed Electronic switch at valley, but i research at NSG training center how to defuse in further found this type of switch in any place accidentally explode in my left hand. But this not consider as a battle casualty and percentage also very low, Doctors also played with body operation also not success i can not fold my palm only i have thumb and little finger only My question can I eligible battle causality and broad band eligibility will effect for me and which date.
    Reply
  2. P
    PUNEET KUMAR
    May 26, 2016 at 3:18 am
    Honorable supreme court judgement is accepted by us without any comments
    Reply
  3. K
    K P
    Apr 11, 2016 at 7:57 am
    The judgment is correct and disability pen should be given to all army personnel even they discharged oblique retired normally because they have not been extentended two years of service being LMC as well as ordered for discharged forcely SUB K P Verma
    Reply
  4. L
    LT COL
    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:28 pm
    WHAT COULD BE MORE SHAME FULL FOR A NATION WHEN ITS BRAVE SOLDIERS HAVE TO FIGHT AGAINST ITS OWN GOVT FOR THEIR ENLEMENTS ALREADY SANCTIONED IN ARMY ORDERS & ARMY RULES, MOST OF THE TIMES THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE NARROWLY INTERPRETED LIKE BROAD BANDING OF DISABILITY PENSION ONLY TO INVALIDED SOLDIERS, WHEN ALL DISABLED ARE DEEMED TO BE INVALIDED FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISABILITY PENSIONARY BENEFITS. & MANY MORE SUCH EMBARGOS TO DENY VETERANS. IN ONE OR THE OTHER WAY. WAKE UP BEFORE ANY MISHAPES OCCURES, HOPE NOT.
    Reply
  5. G
    Gobinda Baruah
    Sep 22, 2015 at 6:51 am
    What a slap! And don't they deserve it? Think of a Government who wants the soldiers to go to the Apex Court to get their dues! Think of a Government who spends crores to get a Chief Minister's wife to be repaired in a hospital of a foreign country but hesitates to dole out paltry sums of disability benefits to the soldiers! Fie you rascals, you are a shameless ungrateful lot!!
    Reply
  6. G
    Gurinder Singh
    Dec 4, 2015 at 11:54 am
    The question is will this govt and ministry of defence ever learn? The babus who have put Modi in an embarring situation on OROP will continue to do such things
    Reply
  7. L
    Last Word
    Nov 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm
    The honourable Supreme court in its judgement pronounced in Dec 2014 on broad-banding disability from 20 to 50 and further over-ruled all review peions filed by MOD babus for over the past four years period after giving its judgement in Apr 2010. The court in its judgement also expressed its anguish on Govt's ill-treating the nation's disabled soldiers. However, the MOD babus ignoring this judgement and displeasure filed yet another review peion in Jul 2015 for modification of Dec 2014 judgement which was dismissed by SC. A contempt peion was filed by a Maj Gen in Aug 2015 on govt failure to issue notification on SC final judgement on Dec 2014, whose fate is unknown. One fails to understand why the honourable SC has failed to take appropriate action against the shameless and erring MOD babus who keep haring ex-servicemen filing review peions repeatedly even after final judgement pronounced by the court ? Will SC take Suo moto notice and take action against the bureaucrats who are habitual offenders against its judgements and come to rescue of hapless ex-servicemen ?
    Reply
  8. L
    Last Word
    Jul 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm
    It is indeed shameful that the army veterans are being treated shabbily by the Modi govt. Even Supreme Court ruling on disability after years of litigation by veterans has not been implemented after lapse of seven months. OROP which was promised by Modi more than one year back is still gathering dust. Modi is distributing billions of dollars to Mona, Nepal and other countries but cannot find money for the country armed forces personnel who were 24hrs on duty and guarded the borders so that nation slept peacefully. Such step-motherly treatment to nation's saviors and preferential treatment to bureaucrats is detrimental to morale of the serving soldiers. Is the govt waiting for something sinister to happen which only occurs in our neighbourhood ?
    Reply
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