AFT | Bench frowns at practice of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome cases being invalided for pension

Armed Forces Tribunal: The Coram of Justice SVS Rathore (Judicial Member) and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Administrative Member) allowed an application filed under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007 for grant of disability pension.

Applicant herein, who joined the Indian Army in 2003, was admitted to the Military Hospital for psychiatric treatment in 2011. He was diagnosed with alcohol dependence syndrome (ADS), alcohol-induced psychosis, and deliberate self-harm; and was subsequently invalided out of service in 2013. Release Medical Board considered his disability as ‘neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service’ (NANA). Consequently, he was denied a disability pension. Hence, the present application.

Learned counsel for the appellant, Mr Vinay Pandey, submitted that the applicant was discharged in low medical category after putting in 09 years 11 months and 08 days of service. As such, he was entitled to get disability pension by condoning the shortfall of a few days for completion of 10 years of regular service. Whereas Mr VPS Vats, learned counsel for the respondent, contested this claim on the ground that the applicant’s disability was self-induced.

It was noted that the applicant had been invalided for a disability which was primarily induced by excessive alcohol consumption. The Tribunal recorded its displeasure at the rising incidence of ADS cases being invalided for pension in the Army. It observed that since ADS cases were invalided on medical grounds as NANA, legally there was no bar for an invalid pension.

In the present case, the applicant was short of 10 years’ of service by 22 days. In such a situation, where the livelihood of an individual was getting adversely affected, it was expected from a government organization to be magnanimous and considerate to its employee by delaying his discharge by 22 days.

In the interest of substantial justice, the impugned order was set aside and respondent was directed to treat applicant to be notionally in service till he completes 10 years of service, and grant him invalid pension for life.[ Jadhav Nilesh Dinkar v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 1028, Order dated 26-03-2019]

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