AFT asks Delhi HC to initiate contempt action against defence ministry for failing to pay enhanced pension to widow of fratricide victim : The Tribune India

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AFT asks Delhi HC to initiate contempt action against defence ministry for failing to pay enhanced pension to widow of fratricide victim

The Bench also took judicial note of fact that several hundred cases are pending for execution and defence ministry is not complying with AFT’s orders

AFT asks Delhi HC to initiate contempt action against defence ministry for failing to pay enhanced pension to widow of fratricide victim

In February 2022, the AFT had granted liberalised family pension to the widow, with directions to comply with the order within four months. Representative image/iStock



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, April 24

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has approached the Delhi High Court for initiation of contempt proceedings against the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Accounts Department for failing to implement the AFT’s orders to pay enhanced pension to the widow of a soldier who was killed in a fratricide incident in 2015.

In February 2022, the AFT had granted liberalised family pension to the widow, with directions to comply with the order within four months, but release of pension is still pending despite repeated directions and the personal appearance of the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts before the AFT.

The AFT’s Bench comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen PM Hariz observed the defence ministry had, earlier this year, filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the orders and seeking additional time for the High Court to pass appropriate directions on the petition.

“We are informed that the matter has not been listed for hearing before the Delhi High Court and no orders have been passed. The counsel for the respondents is unable to convince us as to why the orders have not been implemented,” the Bench remarked.

“During the last hearing, we had categorically indicated to the respondents that in case they do not obtain any interim order from the High Court, they should provisionally implement the order subject to the decision on the writ petition. Even today this aspect of the matter has not been done,” the Bench added.

The Bench also took judicial note of the fact that several hundred cases are pending for execution and the defence ministry is not complying with the AFT’s orders and delaying implementation for over 2-3 years.

“Earlier, the AFT had held the Defence Accounts Department responsible for delaying or withholding pensionary benefits to defence personnel even after government’s sanction and judicial orders, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and had ruled that such an attitude was unacceptable,” Col Indra Sen Singh (retd), the counsel for the widow said.

He said that there is no power available to the AFT for initiating a civil contempt in case of disobedience of directions or orders and the matter has to be referred to the High Court in the jurisdiction where the concerned AFT Bench is located.

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