Delhi High Court allows broad-banding disability benefits to officer cadets : The Tribune India

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Delhi High Court allows broad-banding disability benefits to officer cadets

Delhi High Court allows broad-banding disability benefits to officer cadets

Photo for representation. File photo



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, April 17

In a judgment that has ramifications for a large number of armed forces officer cadets invalided out of pre-commission training academies on medical grounds, the Delhi High Court has extended the benefit of broad-banding and rounding off of their quantum of disability.

Four former cadets had asserted before the court that while personnel below officer rank, including recruits, were entitled to the benefit of broad-banding, the same had been denied to officer cadets.

Though there was no dispute that the disability suffered by the petitioners is attributable to the military training, the claim for broad-banding was rejected by the Army on the ground that the policy is only applicable to commissioned officers who are invalidated from service. Since the petitioners had not been commissioned in the military service and the training period is counted as service, the broad-banding principle in respect of officers cannot be made applicable to the cadets. Col Indra Sen Singh (retd), counsel for two of the petitioners, argued that the ground of rejection had no reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved, that is to grant appropriate ex-gratia disability award when a cadet has actually suffered disability akin to officers which is attributable to military service.

The High Court’s Division Bench, comprising Justice V Kameswar Rao and Justice Saurabh Banerjee, observed that Clause 6 of the Ministry of Defence’s letter dated April 16 on the subject states that disability or death as attributable to or aggravated by conditions of military service or training in case of cadets shall be the same as for regular commissioned officers of the armed forces. The Bench also referred to a similar case decided earlier by the HC, where directions were issued to round-off disability and pay benefits accordingly, which had not been challenged by the Defence Ministry before the SC.

“Hence, for parity of reasons and as the petitioners also belong to the armed forces, these writ petitions need to be allowed. It is ordered accordingly. The impugned orders are set aside. The respondents shall grant the benefit of rounding off and broad-banding to the petitioners as per the policy dated January 31, 2001, from the date the petitioners were granted the ex-gratia disability award subject to adjustment of the payment already made with interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum,” the Bench ruled on April 16.

Three slabs

The policy of broad-banding and rounding off of disability was re-introduced in January 2001 to do away with any arbitrariness and subjectivity on part of the medical boards while determining the percentage of disability. Under this policy, three slabs were created — disability up to 50% to be considered as 50%, between 51% to 75% as 75%, and above 75% as 100% — and benefits were to be paid accordingly.

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