The Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench, has ordered the Army to pay disability pension to a former soldier who was invalidated from service on account of schizophrenia.

The Bench, comprising Justice V.Periya Karuppiah and Lt.Gen(Retd) Anand Mohan Verma, held that the soldier was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was posted in Leh, a high altitude area, while rejecting the stand of the armed force that mental disorder was not due to his service conditions.

In 1980, S.Jayachandran of Pandiya Nellore village, Vellore district, enrolled himself in the Army in a healthy condition.

When he was serving in the high altitude area of Leh-Ladakh in 1989, he suffered mental depression for the first time and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was treated in military hospitals and again posted to field areas where strenuous conditions caused further aggravation of the disorder.

He was invalidated from service in 1996 with service pension but was denied disability pension. Hence, in an application before the Tribunal, he contended that he was eligible for disability pension.

The Army’s counsel argued that schizophrenia was caused due to genetic, behavioural and environmental factors. He was admitted to Command Hospital Air Force, Bangalore, by his wife and other relatives while he was on casual leave. Claiming that the disorder occurred due to domestic problems and not due to his service conditions, counsel argued that there was a family history of psychotic illness in the applicant’s cousin and aunt.

Going through the proceedings of the Medical Board, the Tribunal said though he was diagnosed with the disease while he was on leave, it could have originated in 1989 when he was serving in Leh, a high altitude area. This was attributable to military service and he should have been deemed entitled to receive disability pension.

“The disorder could have originated in 1989 when he was serving in Leh, a high altitude area”