disability pension indian army 2023

disability pension indian army

Supreme Court Extends Disability Pension for Former Soldier in Landmark Ruling Published on: October 1, 2023, 08:45 AM IST

In a significant decision, the Supreme Court has come to the aid of a former soldier whose disability pension had been restricted to a mere one year. This verdict was issued in light of the Army Pension Regulations of 1961, which stipulate that such pension should be disbursed for a minimum of 10 years initially.

disability pension indian army
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The apex court has not only provided much-needed relief to the soldier but has also extended the payment period to a full decade. The ruling, handed down on September 12 by Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar, criticized the previous decision to limit disability pension payments as illogical, considering the specific circumstances of the case.

The Court took note that a medical board had previously determined that the soldier’s disability was not solely attributable to his military service, as he had been unwilling to undergo a ‘life-threatening’ surgery. Simultaneously, the soldier’s records indicated that he had been discharged from service due to ‘permanent disablement.’

Taking all these factors into account, the Court found that the decision by the Armed Forces Appellate Tribunal (AFT) to confine disability benefits to one year lacked logical justification. The Tribunal either seemed unaware or chose not to provide reasons for deviating from the norm outlined in Rule 185 of the Pension Regulations.

The case revolved around a former lance naik rank soldier who had dedicated 15 years of service to the Indian Army before his 1987 discharge, prompted by heart problems. Subsequently, he claimed disability pension eligibility for his condition, and later, following a pacemaker insertion surgery in 2018, he submitted another re-assessment claim.

A medical board concluded that he was entitled to a 100% disability pension but limited it to a one-year duration. Challenging this decision, the soldier found a similar ruling from the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).

Dissatisfied with the outcome, the soldier appealed to the Supreme Court, which ultimately sided with him. Among several factors, the Court highlighted that even the medical board had not attributed negligence to the soldier, and his service records remained exemplary.

Additionally, the Supreme Court noted that the AFT had disregarded Rule 185 of the Pension Regulations for the Army, which clearly specified a 10-year duration for disability pension in the first instance, followed by the option for reassessment after this period.

As a result, the Supreme Court ordered the disbursement of disability pension to the appellant-soldier for a duration of 10 years, with provisions for reassessment following this period.

Advocates Liz Mathew, Mallika Agarwal, and Nisarg Bhardwaj represented Lance Naik Rajput Ajit Singh, while Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati and a team of advocates appeared on behalf of the Central government in this landmark case.

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