Monday 2 June 2014

Whether soldier injured on casual leave entitled for disability pension?

CHANDIGARH: An armed forces personnel suffering injuries while on authorized leave will be entitled for disability benefits, ruled the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Holding that the "leave is necessary for maintaining mental equilibrium of a soldier", the HC, in its May 23 order, ruled that a soldier would be "deemed to be on active service" even when he is on casual leave.

"During leave, armed forces personnel are liable to maintain discipline and are governed by the provisions of the Army Act, 1950 and in a case of any misconduct, liable to be proceeded against. The corresponding duty of the armed forces is to take care of their personnel when on leave. It is necessary commitment of the Army," held the HC.

Defining the significance of "leave" in soldiers' life, the division bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Fateh Deep Singh said, "Grant of such leave has dual purpose - firstly, to give time to the personnel to attend to their domestic chores, which in their absence family members may not be in a position to handle. The second is that after the arduous duties, some time is required to rejuvenate the personnel while they are in touch with the civil society".

"Grant of leave is a necessity to keep the personnel of the armed forces in good mental shape. The personnel are entitled to periodical breaks to provide mental stimulus, and psychological uplift," ruled the HC.

The order came on a petition filed by Subedar (retd) Barkat Masih. The petitioner was on casual leave on August 21, 1993 and his scooter was hit by an Army truck in the cantonment area at Chandimandir, leaving him permanently disabled. The medical board, however, said the injury was not attributable or aggravated by the service and he was not granted disability pension after discharge from the Army. Disability pension is higher than the normal pension granted to retired soldiers.

His application for the disability pension was also rejected by the Chandigarh bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), following which he moved the HC.

Deciding his plea, the HC has directed the Central government to pay him disability pension along with arrears within three months.
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