Service component part of disability pension: Armed Forces Tribunal

Ex-servicemen with eligibility for disability pension but do not have the stipulated length of service for normal pension are entitled to have the service element taken into account while calculating their disability pension, no matter the length of service, maintained the Kochi Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in two judgments that could bring relief to thousands of disabled ex-service personnel in the country.

Pronouncing the judgments, the Bench — which adjudicates service issues of serving and retired armed forces personnel of Kerala, Karnataka, and the Lakshadweep group of islands — said there was no merit in the Union government’s contention that ‘service element’ was excluded from their disability pension on grounds that the ex-servicemen did not have sufficient qualifying service.

The orders were passed on petitions filed by former aircraftman George Alwin Thomas from Arattupuzha in Thrissur and former Naik Vijayan Kodipadi from Iritty in Kannur.

George’s case

Mr. Alwin Thomas served the Air Force for nine years and 28 days when he was discharged from service following an accident, which brought him under the low-medical category.

While the Release Medical Board refused to consider his disability as attributable to or aggravated by service, the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) sanctioned him disability pension fixing the disability at 30 per cent, which was brought down to 20 per cent.

But the pension contained the disability element, which he challenged at the tribunal. Further, the Bench cited similar judgments of the Supreme Court to grant his plea for a rounding off of the disability component of the pension to 50 per cent, which was denied to him on grounds that his discharge from service happened before January 1, 1996.

Vijayan’s case

Mr. Kodipadi’s case was similar, except that he also wanted his service in the army to be clubbed with that in the Defence Security Corps (DSC), which would entitle him to higher pension.

While the Bench turned down this request citing he had clearly, and irreversibly, opted to continue to draw his pension from the Army, it asked the Defence Ministry to disburse the disability pension with service component arrears. The disability element, in the meantime, should be rounded off to 50 per cent, it maintained, as in the previous case.

Relief for thousands of disabled ex-service personnel in the country

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2022 7:42:49 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/service-component-part-of-disability-pension-armed-forces-tribunal/article7501572.ece