Defence ministry’s move to challenge verdicts granting disability pension to military personnel comes under Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner : The Tribune India

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Defence ministry’s move to challenge verdicts granting disability pension to military personnel comes under Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner

This is in total contravention of the directions of the prime minister and of high-level committees of the law and defence ministries to end such litigation

Defence ministry’s move to challenge verdicts granting disability pension to military personnel comes under Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner

The PIL was filed by the Ex-Services Grievances Cell in Mohali,



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, February 27

The Ministry of Defence’s recent move to challenge almost all verdicts of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) granting disability benefits to military personnel has come under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Taking up a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Ex-Services Grievances Cell in Mohali, a Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice GS Sandhawalia and Justice Lapita Banerji has, in its order of February 26, sought a response from the central government on the issue.

The PIL has contended that the new policy of the ministry, based on the advice of the Army’s Judge Advocate General will “flood the courts with en masse, unethical, damaging and unnecessary litigation against disabled soldiers and old pensioners”.

This is in total contravention of the directions of the prime minister and of high-level committees of the law and defence ministries to end such litigation, besides burdening the exchequer and disabled soldiers, the PIL added.

The PIL also pointed out that pursuant to the PM’s intervention, the defence ministry has already withdrawn appeals from the Supreme Court in 2019, but is now flooding the courts again with exactly similar cases.

It has also been averred that the government had earlier decided to challenge only those verdicts which involve disabilities due to negligence, intoxication or substance abuse, and that stress and strain of military service affects the health and longevity of soldiers.

The Apex Court has already ruled that the benefit of doubt is to be given to soldiers’ disabilities irrespective of the manner of exit from service or whether the disabilities have occurred in peace or field areas, the PIL stated.

Close to a thousand appeals filed by the Defence Ministry against disabled soldiers dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2014, following which the then defence minister had constituted a High Level Committee of Experts that had come down heavily on the Army and the ministry for indulging in ‘ego-fuelled’ litigation.

This was followed by a communication from the then Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, asking the defence ministry not to “cause loss to the state and embarrassment to the government.” The SC had thereafter passed strictures against the defence ministry for challenging settled pension matters.

In 2023, a series of coercive orders were passed by the AFT against defence ministry officials for not complying with judgments for years together, which led to issuance of the policy for challenging all orders passed in favour of disabled veterans.

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