Kusum Arora Tribune News Service Jalandhar, July 5
The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has allowed an appeal filed by a 70-year-old mentally deranged soldier challenging the rejection of his disability pension.
A former Sepoy, Gurmit Singh, a resident of Kalra village near here, had challenged the rejection of his disability pension. While the disability claim was rejected on the grounds that the disability is neither attributable nor aggravated by the military service.
A bench comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prasad and Lt. Gen N.S. Brar allowed the disability pension from July 25, 1993, within a period of six months of filing of the petition. They also ordered payment of eight per cent interest on the arrears. The tribunal held that the delay in approaching the court for pension is of no consequences as the cause of action in the matter is recurring and arises every month.
The appeal of Gurmit Singh was filed by Bhim Sen Sehgal, Chairman of the All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association under the Legal Aid Scheme of the association as the petitioner was invalid out of service due to hysterical reaction (mental disease) and nobody has taken up his case in the court of law.
Gurmit Singh joined the Army on August 27, 1963 and was declared invalid on May 4, 1966 on medical grounds. It was stated that the disease arose due to stress and strain in the field area during his Army service. However, his claim of disability pension was rejected by the military authorities.
The suit and appeal filed by Gurmit was dismissed on the grounds of delay of 30 years, despite the fact that the court admitted that he was entitled for the disability pension. Being a psychiatric patient and on account of illiteracy in his family he could not file the appeal in the high court, which resulted in a further delay of 1717 days.
Hence, the case for condoning the delay was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association. Justice Arvind Kumar of the high court admitted the case while condoning the delay on extreme compassionate grounds as the appellant was a mentally deranged person and had become 100 per cent disabled by now.
The case was later transferred to the AFT, Chandigarh, after its constitution last year and came up for final arguments.
Rajesh Sehgal, counsel for the appellant, submitted before the bench that both the courts below have committed insurmountable illegality by dismissing the case on the grounds of delay as the law is well settled by the Supreme Court. He also maintained that the delay is not attracted to the pension matter being recurring cause of action and the right to receive pension accrues every month.
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