Today News Online Service
Chandigarh, February 20
It has taken the intervention of the Supreme Court for a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) to get his disability pension for an injury which he suffered in 1984.
Finally, bringing closure to the ordeal of a retired Subedar from Dasuya in Punjab, the Supreme Court this week dismissed an appeal filed by the defence authorities against a disability pension that had been granted to him on judicial adjudication.
Subedar Sadiq Masih of the Corps of Engineers suffered a permanent disability while he was riding a two-wheeler after sunset to avoid any encounter with terrorists when attending to an urgency during his casual leave.
Terrorism was at peak in Punjab during those times, and it was common for military and police personnel to be attacked during daytime.
The disability was declared “attributable to military service” by the statutory Court of Inquiry and also by the brigade commander, but disability benefits were refused to him by administrative authorities stating that the disability was suffered during leave.
By discussing the scope and the length and breadth of rules and relying upon directions of the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal comprising Justice MS Chauhan and Lt Gen Munish Sibal granted him relief in 2017.
Rather than releasing benefits, the Tribunal’s decision was challenged by the government in the Supreme Court which dismissed the appeal filed against the disabled Subedar this week.
He had retired from service in 2005.
Sources familiar with these matters said that despite directions by the Defence Minster and the Defence Secretary, insensitive and controversial appeals were being filed in many instances by defence authorities in cases involving disabled soldiers where the benefit granted was minuscule when compared to the amount spent by the government on litigation.
In the year 2016, the then defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, had accepted the recommendations of a high level Committee of Experts which had recorded that further appeals in individual cases must not be filed on subjects that have attained finality at the level of the High Court or Supreme Court.
The Committee had termed multiple appeals against soldiers and other employees as “administrative egotism”.