Disability pension to soldiers only if injury sustained on duty

J. Venkatesan

For injury not attributable to the service, personnel only entitled to full normal pension

A military personnel is entitled to ‘disability pension’ only if the injury is sustained during the course of military duty and not for one sustained in an accident when he is on leave, away from the place of work, the Supreme Court has held.  A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and A.K. Patnaik said if the injury was not attributable to the service and was not connected with the service, a personnel would only be entitled to “full normal pension” as per the regulations.

In the instant case, the respondent Jujhar Singh joined the Army in 1978. On March 26, 1987, when he was on annual leave to his native place, he met with an accident and sustained severe injuries and was admitted in a hospital from March 26 to January 20, 1989.   Initially, his disability was assessed at 20 per cent and later at 60 per cent and he retired on July 1, 1998 and was granted full normal pension.  His plea for disability pension was awarded by a single judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and confirmed by a Division Bench. The present appeal by the Union of India is directed against this judgment.  

It was argued by the Centre that the injuries sustained by the respondent were not attributable to the service and were not connected with it.  The disability had neither occurred in the course of employment nor attributable to or aggravated by military service and hence, he was not entitled to disability pension.  Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court said: “It is not in dispute that the respondent was on annual leave when he met with a scooter accident as a pillion rider and sustained injuries at his native place. He was not on military duty at the time of the accident in terms of Para 12 (d) of Entitlement Rules, 1982.   ‘

“In view of the same, the injuries sustained cannot be held to be attributable to the military service. The opinion of the Medical Board makes it clear that the injury, particularly, the fracture, is not attributable to service and it is not connected with service.”   Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said the disability of the respondent was not covered under Regulation 179 of the Pension Regulations for the Army (Part I) 1961.  The Bench said: “The medical authorities have recorded a specific finding to the effect that the disability is neither attributable to nor was aggravated by the military service. This fact has not been appreciated either by the Single Judge or by the Division Bench of the High Court.”

The Hindu

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