Disability pension cannot be denied if refusal to avail treatment is on reasonable grounds, rules AFT : The Tribune India

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Disability pension cannot be denied if refusal to avail treatment is on reasonable grounds, rules AFT

A sailor had been discharged from the Indian Navy in 2017 on completion of 15 years and four days after being placed in low medical category for a knee injury suffered by him while posted with the Western Fleet

Disability pension cannot be denied if refusal to avail treatment is on reasonable grounds, rules AFT

Photo for representation. iStock



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, May 24

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that disability pension cannot be denied to a person if he has refused, on reasonable grounds, to avail medical treatment for an injury sustained by him.

A sailor had been discharged from the Indian Navy in 2017 on completion of 15 years and four days after being placed in low medical category for a knee injury suffered by him while posted with the Western Fleet.

A release medical board assessed his disability at 20 per cent for life, but held it as not aggravated by and not connected with military service. Subsequently, without informing him, his disability was administratively reduced to 10 per cent. He was denied disability pension on grounds that he had refused to avail treatment.

The sailor contended that he had been advised surgery for his disability but when he asked the medical authorities about the chances of improvement, no satisfactory answer was given. He was told that the surgery was complicated, involving a high degree of risk, and it may or may not improve his disability.

He averred that in the given circumstances, when the doctors were not very sure about the success of the surgery and a danger was involved in the procedure, he had no option but to give his unwillingness for undergoing the surgery.

The tribunal was also told that the release medical board proceedings also considered his refusal to undergo the treatment as reasonable, and that treatment is subject to an individual's consent.

The Tribunal’s bench comprising Justice Anu Malhotra and Rear Admiral Dhiren Vig ruled that the sailor's refusal to undergo medical treatment has to be held as reasonable as in the medical board proceedings itself it had been expressed that the percentage of success after surgery was only 50 per cent.

The Bench also held that the reduction of the percentage of disablement from 20 per cent to 10 per cent by the pension authorities was wholly erroneous in terms of earlier judgements passed on the subject by the Supreme Court.

The Tribunal has directed the authorities to round off the disability of 20 per cent to 50 per cent in accordance with existing provisions, and calculate and sanction the sailor’s pension from the date of his discharge.

 

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