Disability benefits: MoD not to withdraw appeals

CHANDIGARH: Dashing hopes of ex-servicemen embroiled in legal battles over disability benefits, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today stated in Parliament that it would not withdraw appeals pending in such cases before the Supreme Court.

editorial@tribune.com

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5

Dashing hopes of ex-servicemen embroiled in legal battles over disability benefits, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today stated in Parliament that it would not withdraw appeals pending in such cases before the Supreme Court.

In June last year, the MoD had issued orders to the defence services headquarters restricting the filing of fresh appeals against the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) or the high court in cases where the law has been settled.

In a large number of cases where illness, disability or death was initially held “neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service (NANA)” by the sanctioning executive authority, the AFT or the HCs had granted relief to the affected individuals. Many of such orders were also upheld by the Supreme Court, but the MoD continued to file appeals against such judgments even on issues where the point of law has been well settled. There are thousands of cases pending before the apex court as well as the HCs and the AFT that pertain to disability.

“The Ministry of Defence do not propose to withdraw such pending appeals in the Supreme Court….It is the considered view of the ministry to await the orders of the Court in Civil Appeals filed in ‘NANA’ cases,” the Minister of State for Defence, Dr Subhash Bhamre, said in the Rajya Sabha today while replying to a question by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an MP from Kerala.

Service and legal experts said the MoD’s statement contradicts the spirit of the national policy of reducing litigation and PM’s statements on excessive litigation.

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