Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Chandigarh, May 27
The UT Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that a solider suffering from alcohol dependence syndrome is not eligible for a disability pension, but an invalid pension.
Petitioner Baljit Singh was enrolled in the Sikh Regiment on March 1, 1998, in a fit state of health and got discharged on February 28, 2015. Thereafter, he was re-enrolled in the Defence Security Corps (DSC) on April 23, 2016. During the course of service, he was diagnosed with alcohol dependence syndrome and was discharged from service on January 31, 2020, after being placed in a low medical category with a 40 per cent disability. His disability was held neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service and as a result, the disability pension was rejected.
Baljit Singh approached the AFT in 2022 and submitted through his counsel that a soldier remained under stress on account of his posting and alcohol dependency was due to posting in combat areas, including in counter-insurgency operational and high-altitude areas, and at extremely isolated posts, as well as he suffered from psychiatric disease. His counsel argued that alcohol dependence syndrome couldn’t be ignored to arrive at a conclusion that the same was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service because the consumption of alcohol was an activity due to the stress and strain of military service. He claimed Baljit Singh was entitled to an invalid pension.
The Bench headed by Justice DC Chaudhary observed that a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had held that the length of service should have no applicability for the grant of invalid pension when a person was discharged on medical grounds.
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