THE ARMED Forces Tribunal (AFT) has granted enhanced pension to the father of a deceased IAF non-commissioned officer (NCO). The defence accounts department had earlier refused him the same even though the Chief of Air Staff had declared the death in a chopper crash to be a battle casualty.
Ombir Singh lost his son, Leading Aircraftsman Sandeep Kumar, in an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2010.
Battling the defence accounts department, Singh finally got relief from the principal bench of the AFT, which has declared that since his son died in a battle inoculation exercise, the controller of defence accounts must release a liberalised family pension to him as the next of kin.
Sandeep was flying with 11 others in an MI-17 helicopter from Tawang to Guwahati in Assam in November 2010. The helicopter met with an accident and all aboard were killed.
The Court of Inquiry had found that the accident had occurred due to breaking up of the rotor blade during flight.
Since Tawang helipad is classified as an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), the Chief of the Air Staff directed that the deaths of IAF personnel be treated as Battle Casualty which took place in a Battle inoculation Training Exercise in accordance with the relevant instructions in this regard by the Ministry of Defence.
The status of Battle Casualty entitled the father of the deceased to a liberalised family pension, which is substantially more than the ‘Special Pension’ given by the defence accounts department.
However, the demand for enhanced pension was rejected by the Joint Controller of Defence Accounts (JCDA), which is the competent authority to grant liberalised family pension in such cases.
The detailed judgement given by the bench of Justice Sunil Hali and Air Marshal JN Burma (Retd.) says that no written reply was filed by the officials from the office of Joint Controller Defence Accounts (JCDA).