Nearly 24 years after the disappearance of her younger son, who was serving the Army, a woman in Tiruvannamalai has got relief, with the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Regional Bench, Chennai, ordering that she is entitled to family pension from the date on which her son went missing.

Justice A.C. Arumugaperumal Adityan (Member-Judicial) and Lt.Gen (Retd) S. Pattabhiraman (Member-Administrative), AFT, passed the order on an application by Poongol of Pavithram village.

The Bench deprecated the attitude of Army authorities, who, without giving any explanation for the personnel's absence from the unit, “coolly say that he is a deserter,” that too without following procedures contemplated under Army rules.

The applicant's son M. Raman, after successful training, was sent for advance technical training from June 1986 to January 1987. Thereafter, he was posted to the Eastern Command Signal Regiment, Kolkata.

No information was received from him thereafter. After receiving a telegram in June 1987 stating that his son was missing from the Army from March 12, 1987, his father could not recover from shock and died in November 2002.

Ms. Poongol waited for the enquiry result from the local police regarding her son's disappearance. As there was no reply from the local police, she approached the tribunal seeking family pension and other consequential reliefs.

The Army authorities in their counter stated that after being posted to the Eastern Command Signal Regiment, Raman was absent without leave from March 12, 1987 and not missing.

An apprehension order was issued by the unit to the local police and to his hometown police station in March 1987.

All searches for him were in vain. After an enquiry, he was declared a deserter.

He was dismissed in 1990. Since the individual had been dismissed, he was not entitled for pension and gratuity.

Allowing the application, the Bench observed that the apprehension order dated March 19, 1987 was sent to the Superintendent of Police, North Arcot.

Even the district name was not spelt correctly. Without obtaining a police report that the individual who was missing could not be apprehended by them, the dismissal order was passed.

The authorities had not followed the law before dismissing the individual.

It said the applicant was entitled to family pension as per rules after following the mandatory procedures as per a Union Government letter of June 1998.

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