The Supreme Court has said army personnel will be entitled to disability pension only if the disability is attributable to military service or was aggravated by such service and if such condition is more than 20 per cent. A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and M M Sundresh was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre challenging an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal which granted disability pension to army personnel.
The top court agreed with the submission of Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj that there has to be a reasonable connection between the injuries sustained by a member of the Armed Forces resulting in disability and the military service. “Unless the disability is attributable to or aggravated by military service and is more than 20 per cent, the entitlement to disability pension does not arise,” the bench said while dismissing the claim of army personnel who had sustained injuries two days after he reached the leave station.
In the present case, two days after the personnel reached the leave station, he met with an accident on a public road, the apex court said. “There is absolutely no nexus between the military service and injuries sustained by the respondent. There is not even a causal connection. The tribunal has completely overlooked this aspect which goes to the root of the matter. Hence, the respondent was not entitled to the disability pension,” the bench said.
The personnel in this case was enrolled in the Army on June 4, 1965, and after rendering colour service for 10 years and 88 days, he was transferred to reserved establishment on August 30, 1975. During his reserve period, he voluntarily got himself enrolled in Defence Security Corps on January 7, 1976, and was granted annual leave on November 6, 1999. While on leave, he suffered an accident while crossing the road and was hit by a scooter.
The medical board assessed the percentage of the disability of the respondent at 80 per cent and placed him in the low medical category. On that ground, he was invalidated out of service from September 28, 2000. Later, he made an application to the Armed Forces Tribunal praying for grant of disability pension.The tribunal held that if an individual sustains an injury during the period of any kind of authorised leave and his act was not inconsistent with military service, his disability is deemed to be attributable to the military service.