Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service Chandigarh, March 31
In a landmark judgment that would affect hundreds of disabled ex-servicemen, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) today quashed government instructions that had denied benefits to those who had retired before 1996. The instructions had placed them at a financial disadvantage vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts as well as similarly placed ex-servicemen who had retired since 1996.
Disposing of a bunch of 40 petitions, the tribunal’s bench comprising Justice NP Gupta and Lt-Gen NS Brar held that pre-1996 defence retirees would also be entitled to the same benefits that were granted to pre-1996 civilian retirees.
The Fifth Pay Commission had introduced the concept of “broad-banding” disability pension to overcome rigid mathematical calculations and subjectivity of medical boards while assessing the percentage of disability. The concept was initiated for all Central government pensioners.
The concept provided that people with disability less than 50 per cent would be granted pension by considering the disability percentage as 50 per cent, those with disability between 50-75 per cent would be granted a disability element of 75 per cent and those with above 75 per cent disability would be granted the benefits of 100 per cent disability.
The Department of Pensions (DoP) accordingly, had issued instructions in February 2000, implementing the broad-banding policy, initially only for post-1996 retirees. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had also issued policy instructions with regard to post-1996 defence retirees in January 2001.
Later, in September 2001, the DoP implemented the broad-banding benefits for pre-1996 retirees also, with effect from January 1, 1996. The MoD however did not issue further implementation instructions related to pre-1996 retirees and denied the benefit to pre-1996 defence retirees.
It was only in January 2010, almost a decade later, that these benefits were granted by the MoD, but these were made applicable only from July 1, 2009, while for civilians in the MoD, these had already been made applicable from January 1, 1996.
Discussing all aspects of the issue and the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the bench held that the cut-off date of July 1, 2009, did not stand the scrutiny of law and it artificially divided and created discrimination within a single homogenous group of disabled personnel.
10 yrs on, landmark decision on disability pension
DEBUGGING ANOMALIES OF DISABLED WAR VETERANS
Thanks for circulating PCDA(P)'s instructions.
Regarding the war injury pension for the invalided out, Table 4 mentions the figures for minimum war injury element on the basis of 100% disability. However, the total (war injury element and disability element) will not exceed the figure mentioned in the column owing to the ceiling of 100% of reckonable pay. Any one with disability of 50% and above will get the same pension owing to the ceiling up to 30.6.09.
Those invalided out from 1.1.96 onwards have been granted the benefit of broad-banding; and their war injury element and total pension would be worked out accordingly, while maintaining the overall ceiling of 100% of reckonable pay (minimum pay of the relevant PB.)
However, the ceiling has been removed w.e.f. 1.7.09. Hence from that date onwards, those with over 50% disability element (with broad-banding for post-96 invalided out) will get correspondingly higher disability pension.
For instance, 100% disabled will get 150% (100% +50%) of the amount mentioned in the Table. Those with 75% disability will get 125% of the mentioned amount for their rank w.e.f. 1.7.09. Over and above this, DA as sanctioned from time to time. (51% w.e.f. 1.1.11)
Similarly, even for the superannuated, w.e.f. 1.7.09, the total figure can go beyond the figure mentioned in the Table. With 100% disability, total amount will be 110% (60% + 50%) of the reckonable pay (minimum pay in the PB).
Further, both for disability element and service element, reckonable pay of the rank in which invalided out/ superannuated/ discharged will count and not the rank in which a war veteran was injured.
It may also be noted that 2 further orders are expected to be issued within the next 2-3 months which would have further bearing on the disability element entitlement of the war injured:
a. Broad-banding of disability element for all pre-96 war disabled as also for post-96 superannuated/ discharged, which should entitle them too higher pension (beyond 100%) w.e.f. 1.7.09.
b. Entitling the superannuated/ discharged war disabled the same rate (100% for 100% disability) w.e.f. 1.1.96 as for the invalided out instead of the current rate of 60%.
Col H N Handa
Comment: We need to circulate the latest and comprehensive disability pension entitlements. The MOD, PCDA and other orders are fragmented and difficult to decode.
I am attaching an article titled Military Leadership and Trial by Media. You may consider its circulation please. It is running at click here
Maj Gen Mrinal Suman Veteran
GOOD NEWS ABOUT PENURY GRANT
2 days ago