The Supreme Court has directed the government to pay disability pension to the kin of a soldier, who was discharged from service due to schizophrenia, observing that the disorder was caused due to his work. The apex court said that an army personnel is recruited after extensive medical tests and if he develops any mental disorder later, it would have been caused due to work.
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A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi directed the government to pay disability pension to the kin of former armyman Laxmanram Poonia, who was denied pension on the ground that his psychiatric disorder was not triggered because of his job. Poonia, who was discharged from service in 2009 due to his ailment, had died in 2015 during the pendency of the matter.
“In the absence of any evidence on record to show that the appellant (Poonia) was suffering from any such disease like schizophrenia at the time of entering into the military service, it will be presumed that the appellant was in a sound mental condition at the time of entering into the military service and the deterioration of health had taken place due to military service,” the court said.
The government had contested the plea saying the medical board, in its report, had opined that disability was neither attributable to, nor aggravated by military service. Poonia was discharged from service in October 2009 as per the Army rules and his claim for grant of disability pension was dismissed. He had challenged the order before the tribunal which had also rejected it, holding that the disability being ‘constitutional’ in nature, the disease was not connected with military service.
Poonia had said that due to continuous and restless duty hours for several days, he suffered hypertension resulting in lack of sleep and hunger. He had said he was admitted at military hospital in November 2007 due to critical condition. He had said that he was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia like psychotic disorder and discharged from the hospital in March 2008. But in 2009, he had to be readmitted to the hospital thrice due to the illness. Before being discharged from service, a medical board had examined him and opined that though the disability was assessed at 60 per cent for life, it was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service.