Monday, November 7, 2011

Armed Forces Tribunal clarifies Liberal Family Pension

Armed Forces Tribunal orders pension to mother of jawan who died in Siachen Karthika Gopalakrishnan, TNN | Sep 22, 2011, 01.10AM IST

CHENNAI: A woman, whose 27-year-old armyman son died after contracting a fatal illness while serving at the Siachen Glacier, is still awaiting his pension. Pointing out that she is fully entitled to the benefits, the regional bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in the city has directed the authorities to speed up the process. A bench of Justice A C Arumugaperumal Adityan, member (judicial), and Lt Gen (retd) S Pattabhiraman, member (administrative) passed orders.

Hellan Sagayamony from Nilgiris district had moved the tribunal when she did not get any relief even three years after her son's death. Her son A Stalin had enrolled as a sepoy in the Madras Regiment on January 28, 2002 and posted to high-altitude regions, including Siachen Glacier, between October and December 2007. While serving at the international border and the Line of Control, he developed breathing problems due to the extreme cold.

Though Stalin was given medical treatment by the doctor at the post, he was later evacuated to the field hospital where he was diagnosed with 'High-Altitude Cerebral Edema' (HACE) and placed on the "dangerously ill" list. He was transferred to the Command Hospital, Chandimandir in Haryana and then to the Army Hospital (Research & Referral), New Delhi on January 24, 2008. He died the next day due to spontaneous intra-cerebral hemorrhage.

With his death classified as "battle casualty", claims for liberalised family pension (LFP) and ex-gratia payment were made to the principal controller of defence accounts (Pension), Allahabad, but both were rejected on the ground that death was due to stress and strain and not due to climatic conditions.

LFP can be claimed when death takes place during action in a war, war-like operations, border skirmishes, operation against terrorists and other such actions. However, Stalin's dependents were sanctioned a special family pension, which is given when the cause of death is attributable to military service. The pension is lower than the LFP. An ex-gratia payment is made for death occurring due to accidents in the course of performing duties.

Passing orders, the bench referred to a government order (GO) issued by the ministry of defence on January 31, 2001 which said that disease contracted because of continued exposure to a hostile work environment was a condition under which one could claim LFP. Another GO issued on October 21, 1998 added that the ex-gratia amount had been enhanced from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

Relying on both GOs: The bench ruled that Hellan Sagayamony was entitled to both allowances and directed authorities to expedite the relief within three months. Failing which, she would be entitled to 9% interest per annum on the arrears.
Liberal Family Pension

Related Reading: Non-pensioners entitled to MH facilities: AFT

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