THE ESM CORNER

DISABILITY PENSION LEGAL BATTLE: MOD TO CHALLENGE NANA CASES

DISABILITY PENSION

What is Disability pension ?

Disability pension is a scheme that provides financial assistance to ex-servicemen and their dependents who suffer from any disability due to or aggravated by military service. It consists of two elements: service element and disability element. Service element is equal to the retiring pension, while disability element is calculated as a percentage of the reckonable emoluments last drawn, depending on the degree of disability. Disability pension is also exempted from income tax

Soon after introducing the new GMO 2023, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made the decision to initiate legal action in numerous disability pension cases involving retired officers and soldiers, who are also referred to as Ex-Servicemen (ESM).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to challenge hundreds of cases of disability pension awarded to retired officers and jawans in court. The MoD has instructed the legal cells of all Army commands to file writ petitions in the high courts against the rulings made by various Armed Forces Tribunals (AFTs).

The move comes after the MoD tightened the rules of eligibility for disability pension in September, following an internal audit which found that 40% of the officers were claiming disabilities to get higher pensionary benefits. The MoD has also faced criticism from the judiciary for delays in processing cases after the AFT judgments.

The MoD has prepared a list of officers and soldiers who have been granted disability pension under different categories. The list has been drawn up on the basis of the reasons for granting disability pension, such as:

  • Disability that is neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service
  • Disability that occurred just before retirement or premature retirement
  • Disability that is less than 20% at the time of the last medical board assessment before leaving service
  • Disability that is not supported by adequate medical documents
  • Disability that is not in accordance with the prescribed guidelines
  • Disability that is not in consonance with the nature of duties performed
  • Disability that is not in line with the degree of disability assessed by the medical board
  • Disability that is not in sync with the rank and pay level of the individual
  • Disability that is not in harmony with the age and service of the individual
  • Disability that is not in agreement with the prevailing rules and regulations

The MoD has said that these cases have been selected after a careful review of a huge volume of files. The MoD has directed the legal cells of the Army commands to file writ petitions in the high courts against the AFT judgments and to seek a stay on them. The MoD has also asked the legal cells to club similar petitions and to monitor the cases in the high courts. The legal cells will review each case at the local level and any uncertainty will be resolved by the Adjutant General’s branch.

The MoD’s decision to challenge the disability pension cases in court has sparked a debate among the defence community and the civil society. Some argue that the move is unfair and disrespectful to the defence veterans and their families, who have sacrificed their health and well-being for the nation. Others contend that the move is justified and necessary to prevent misuse and abuse of the disability pension scheme, which puts a burden on the public exchequer.

The outcome of the court cases will have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of the defence veterans and their dependents, who depend on the disability pension for their sustenance and dignity. The court cases will also test the legal and moral validity of the MoD’s revised rules for disability pension, which have been widely criticized as arbitrary and discriminatory

DISABILITY PENSION CASE : MOD FACES CONTEMPT THREAT FROM HIGH COURT

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