Friday, August 13, 2010

AFT removes anomalies in disability pension rules

Dear Chander,
I was away at Delhi for a seminar and saw this only this morning on return. I have still to go through the actual judgement. Once I have done that, I will fwd relevant extracts for the information of all.
In the meantime you could place it on your Blog for the information of all. Thanks.
Warm regards.
Vijay Oberoi
(Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, Former VCOAS, President War Wounded Foundation)

AFT removes anomalies in disability pension rules
Extends broad-banding plan benefits to thousands of pensioners
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
In a landmark judgment affecting thousands of disabled personnel, the Armed Forces Tribunal yesterday extended the benefits of “broad-banding” disability pension to those who are released on the completion of their terms of engagement or on superannuation. Earlier, these benefits were applicable only to those invalided out of service on medical grounds.

This had resulted in a peculiar situation wherein the disability pension for an individual discharged even a single day before his actual date of discharge or normal retirement was fixed on the basis of higher disability percentage, while a person discharged on his actual date is not entitled to the same.

Acting upon a petition filed by former vice-chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, the Bench comprising Justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen AS Bahia held that withholding the benefit of broad-banding from certain categories of ex-servicemen by the government was discriminatory. The pension of a large number of disabled ex-servicemen may now be enhanced.

In order to curtail medical subjectivity and mottled declaration of disability percentages for similar disabilities by different medical boards, the government had initiated a system of “broad-banding” or “rounding-off” of disability percentages in which it was provided that disability percentages for 20-49 per cent, 50-75 per cent and 76-100 per cent categories would be treated as 50, 75 and 100 per cent, respectively, for calculating disability pension.

The Ministry of Defence, however, added a line in the sanction letter that broad-banding would be applicable only to “invalided” personnel and not to those disabled persons who are released on the completion of terms or on superannuation.

Distinguishing the present case from a Supreme Court judgment in Lt Col PK Kapur vs UOI, where the principle of broad-banding was rejected, the Bench observed that the reason behind the concept of broad-banding and statutory rules concerned had not been then brought to the notice of the SC by the Defence Ministry and, hence, the judgment rendered without full disclosure of facts and law was sub-silentio and not binding on other courts as per the SC’s own rulings.

The MoD had “misleadingly” informed the SC in Kapur’s case that broad-banding was introduced to grant benefit to personnel whose career was cut short due to invalidation. Documents, however, show that the policy was in fact introduced to avoid subjectivity and variance in calculating disability percentage. Further, the SC was also not informed that according to rules, superannuating disabled personnel are deemed as “invalided” for the purpose of granting disability pension.
AFT removes anomalies in disability pension rules: The Tribune- Friday, August 13, 2010, Chandigarh, India

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