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Posted at: Dec 12, 2014, 1:43 AM; last updated: Dec 12, 2014, 12:23 AM (IST)

SC upholds benefits to disabled soldiers

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11

In a single stroke, the Supreme Court has dismissed more than 800 multiple appeals which were filed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) against judgments of the Armed Forces Tribunal that had granted benefits to disabled soldiers.

The Supreme Court’s orders will enhance the quantum of disability pension of a large number of soldiers.

The Fifth Pay Commission had introduced the concept of “broad-banding” disability pension to minimise medical subjectivity and rationalise mistakes of medical boards.

Under these provisions, those having a disability assessed below 50% will get benefits applicable for 50 per cent disability, those having 50-75% disability will get benefits applicable for 75% while disability above 75% will be considered as 100% for the purpose of fixing pension.

However while implementing the concept, the MoD granted it only to post-1996 personnel invalided out on medical grounds and not to pre-1996 or those who were released with disability pension on superannuation or on completion of the term of engagement, though all categories were equally afflicted with the problem of medical subjectivity. Military pension rules, however, provided that defence personnel released in a low-medical category were deemed to be invalided out of service for purposes of disability pension.

There was a series of litigation thereafter wherein various Benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal, High Courts and now the Supreme Court in a detailed decision held that pre-1996 disabled personnel and those released on completion of terms or superannuation could not be deprived of the benefits of broad-banding.

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