High Court allows benefit of broad-banding disability benefits to officer cadets invalided out from training academies on medical grounds : The Tribune India

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High Court allows benefit of broad-banding disability benefits to officer cadets invalided out from training academies on medical grounds

4 ex-cadets had averred before the court that while officers and personnel below officer rank, including recruits were entitled benefit of broad-banding, the same has been denied to officer cadets

High Court allows benefit of broad-banding disability benefits to officer cadets invalided out from training academies on medical grounds

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, April 17

In a judgement 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.

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, with disability up to 50 per cent to be considered as 50 per cent, between 51 per cent to 75 per cent as 75 per cent, and above 75 per cent as 100 per cent; and benefits were to be paid accordingly.

Four ex-cadets had averred before the court that while officers and personnel below officer rank, including recruits were entitled the benefit of broad-banding, the same has been denied to officer cadets.

Though there was no dispute that the disability suffered by the petitioners is attributable to the military training, the ground for rejecting their claim for broad-banding was rejected by the Army on the grounds 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 this ground of rejection has 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 of 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 High Court where directions were issued to round-off disability and pay benefits accordingly, which had not been challenged by the Defence Ministry before the Supreme Court.

“Hence, for parity of reasons and as the petitioners are also belonging to the Armed Forces, these writ petitions need to be allowed. It is ordered accordingly. The impugned order(s) 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 percent per annum,” the Bench ruled.

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