Soldiers retired with Disability will get Disability Pension : PIL Filed in High Court

All Soldiers retired with Disability will get Disability Pension : PIL Filed in High Court

As expressed by the Defence authority to the national media, Raksha Mantralaya is challenging the Disability pension issue in the High Court against the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).

After the Entitlement Rule and Guide to Medical Officer 2023 comes, whoever it is, the jawan and officer will not be given disability percentage more than  5 or 10% at maximum cases. This means that there will not be at least 20% disability percentage, hence disability pension will also not be available. And one of the decisions of AFT has been challenged by Raksha Mantralaya in the concerned High Court.

Due to this one of the petitioners has filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This PIL has been made by a Lieutenant Colonel of Indian Army and through this article we will understand the entire matter. This PIL has been filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court on 26 Feb 2024.

Defense Ministries move to challenge verdicts granting disability pension to military personnel comes under Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner. That is, PIL has been filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against any decision of the Defense Ministry challenging the decisions of military personnel to give them disability pension.

And this matter has come under the scrutiny of Punjab and Haryana High Court. Recently this year Punjab and Haryana High Court had told Raksha Mantralaya that a Contempt of Court case should be filed against you and a fine of Rs 10 lakh should be imposed. Because you are challenging the decisions given by the Armed Forces Tribunal in the High Courts after expiry of scheduled period.

Thereafter, the Retired Indian Army Officer has filed a PIL against the MoD at Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Ministry of Defence recent move to challenge almost all verdicts of the Armed Forces Tribunal granting disability benefits to military personnel has come under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Taking up a Public Interest Litigation PIL filed by the Ex-Services Grievance Cell in Mohali, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice G.S. Sandhawalia and Justice L Banerjee has, in its order of February 26, sought a response from the Central Government on the issue.

The new policy of the Ministry, based on the advice of the Army’s Judge Advocate General, will flood the court with an en masse unethical, damaging and unnecessary litigation against disabled soldiers and old pensioners.  

As advised by the  High Level Committee of the Law and defence ministries to end such litigation besides burdening the ex-checker and disabled soldiers the PIL added. The PIL also pointed out that, pursuant to the PM’s intervention, the Defence Ministry has already withdrawn appeals from the Supreme Court in 2019, but is now flooding the courts again and exactly similar cases.

It has also been averted that the government had earlier decided to challenge only those verdicts which involve disabilities due to negligence, intoxication, and substance abuse and that stress and strain of military service affects the health and longevity of soldiers. The Appex Court has already ruled that the benefit of doubt is to be found in the given to soldiers’ disabilities irrespective of the manner of exit from service or whether the disabilities have occurred in peace or field areas, the PIL stated. In addition, close to a thousand appeals filed by the Defence Ministry against disabled soldiers dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2014, following which the then Defence Minister had constituted a high-level committee of experts that had come down heavily on the Army and the Ministry for Engaging in Ego-Fueled Litigation.

This was followed by a communication from the then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi asking the Defence Ministry not to cause loss to the state and embarrassment to the government. The Supreme Court had thereafter passed strictures against the Defence Ministry for challenging settled pension matters. In 2023, a series of coercive orders were passed by the AFT against Defence Ministry officials for not complying with judgments for years together, which led to the issuance of a policy for challenging all orders passed in favour of disabled veterans.

When the Defence Ministry refused to comply with these orders, a process of contempt of court was carried out. In September 2023, the Defence Ministry issued a new policy entitled Rules and Guides to Medical Officers. After this, such provisions were made that no disabled veteran or officer can be given a disability pension in the future.

So, in this way, a lot of great things have been included in this PIL and a PIL has been filed on 26 February 2024 in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, on which the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked for an answer as to why you are doing this. Whatever the situation is, you should clarify it in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. So, now during the next hearing, it will be told by the Defence Ministry that what it said in 2018-19, why did it change on that point? Now, why is everyone after a veteran and an officer that they should not get a disability pension? The next hearing will take place on 29 July 2024 and on this day, the Defence Ministry will have to give its answer.

The name of the officer who issued this PIL is Lieutenant Colonel Sadhu Singh Sohi, who is the President of the Ex-Serviceman Grievance Cell , a registered organization in Mohali. He has filed this PIL and asked the Punjab and Haryana High Court to stop all such review petitions that have been filed by the Defence Ministry. Otherwise, there will be a flood of such review petitions in the High Court and many such review petitions will be filed here, which will be issued by the Defence Ministry to stop the judgment of AFT.

So, it is a very good PIL. We welcome this PIL. We welcome all the Exservicemen Jawans/JCOs  and officers.

If the Punjab and Haryana High Court decided that in the future, the Defence Ministry cannot issue review petitions against the judgment of AFT, then all the JCOs, veterans and officers will welcome that decision. And once again, we thank the Lieutenant Colonel sir for taking initiative.

Because this is the only contribution we can make in this. The rest of the fight from our side will be fought by the Lieutenant Colonel and his Union. And the PIL has been registered.

The Defence Ministry has received the notice. Whatever update comes on 29 July 2024 will be shared with you all. That’s all in this video.

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