Thanks to an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench
Fifty-years after he was discharged from the Army, a former sepoy is set to get disability pension, thanks to an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench.
Hailing from Virudhunagar, M. Sundaram was enrolled as sepoy in the Madras Regiment in 1958. He was invalidated from service after being diagnosed with psychosis. As he was exposed to a hostile work environment, he was discharged after five years and four months of service at the age of 25.
He contended that he was not suffering from any ailment and had no history of any constitutional disease at the time of joining the Army. He said the subsequent medical examinations conducted were found that he was fit in all mandatory requirements till he was invalidated.
Even though, he was entitled to disability pension, it was rejected by the authorities.
A Review Medical Board was constituted in 2011 and he subjected himself to examination to assess the disability after a long spell of 47 years. The Medical Board had opined that the disability of psychosis was due to non-service conditions.
The Board said since there was no disability attributable to service, he was not entitled to any disability pension.
The counsel for forces said that as per the Guide for Medical Officers (Military Pension) 2008, psychosis was considered a genetic biological disorder and it was not connected with military service.
The opinion of the Review Medical Board was final. The disability of the applicant was constitutional in nature.
Disposing the application, the AFT Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice V.Periya Karuppiah and its administrative member Lt. Gen (Retd) Anand Mohan Verma, found that there was vast contradiction in the opinion of the president of Medical Board in the proceedings and the opinion of the psychiatrist.
Concluding that the Board had erred in its decision, the Bench noted that the psychiatrist had noted that the disability persisted owing to past illness, as he was invalidated from service for it.
However, the board’s president had given an opinion that his 40 per cent disability would have arisen due to non-service factors.
Stating that opinion of psychiatrist should prevail, the AFT set aside the orders of the Army rejecting the former sepoy’s plea and held that Mr. Sundaram was entitled to disability pension from 2007.