Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 24
Setting aside a judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) that had denied pro-rata pension to Air Force personnel, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday cautioned the tribunal on its “adventurism” in denying relief to affected persons who were covered by existing judgments of the High Court.
Disposing off a bunch of petitions, a Division Bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon has reiterated that the benefit of pro-rata pension would also apply to other ranks on the same lines as it is admissible to commissioned officers who join public sector undertakings before completion of minimum pensionable length of service.
“We are rather surprised that the AFT, though bound by the law laid down by this court, has at the asking of the Indian Air Force refused to be bound by the judgment and law laid down by this court and ventured to take a contrary view which was not open to the AFT, the Bench observed when pointed out that the tribunal had refused relief to similarly placed personnel despite an earlier decision of the High Court on the subject.
“Stating that the reason given by AFT for indulging in such adventurism is also fallacious.” the Bench added, “The action of the AFT, being in the teeth of dicta of this court, is violative of the principles of stare decisis and non est.”
The Air Force had contended before the High Court that they were able to assist the AFT better than the High Court and hence the AFT ruled in their favour despite the fact that the High Court judgment had been affirmed by the Supreme Court.
The IAF also averred that award of pro rata pension carries with it, a financial burden of Rs 44 crore per month in addition to payment of Rs 250 crore in arrears.
The Bench also held that it was bound by an earlier judgment of the High Court rendered by a Bench comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Sanjeev Narula,in a similar case and that the IAF has failed to persuade it to form a view any different from that of the earlier Bench.
The Bench further ruled that once it has agreed with the view that discriminating airmen vis-a-vis commissioned officers to be without any rational basis, merely the argument of a heavy financial burden cannot come in the way of the consequences of holding the same to be discriminatory and the order of payment of pro rata pension to airmen not following.
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