Armed Forces Tribunal

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Coram of Justice V.K. Shali (J) and Air Marshal B.B.P. Sinha (A), partly allowed an Original Application by holding the applicant herein, who was granted an honorary rank post-retirement, to be eligible for receiving service pension.

The present case arises from the fact that the applicant was enrolled in the Army in the rank of Havildar and he has bestowed an honorary rank of Naib Subedar after retirement. The applicant approached this Tribunal questioning the reason for not being paid the pension benefits associated with the post of Naib Subedar as per the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission.

The learned counsel representing the applicant, C.S. Rawat, stated that the grant of pension for honorary rank of Naib Subedar was accepted by a Government Policy letter and yet the same was not extended to him. He placed reliance on the case of Virendra Singh v. Union of India, O.A No 42 of 2010, wherein the similar issue was addressed by the Armed Forces Tribunal, Chandigarh Bench and it granted retirement benefits for the honorary rank of Naib Subedar. Thereafter, the Supreme Court had upheld the Tribunal’s order.

The learned counsel representing the respondents, Pushpa Bhatt, contended that the applicant was bestowed with the honorary rank after retirement, and he shall be granted pension for pre-retirements only, wherein he held the rank of a Havildar. The respondents also relied on the Virendra Singh decision and contended that the relief granted in the said decision applied to the persons retiring post 01-01-2006 since the Tribunal had stated the Government’s letter came into effect from the stated date.

The Bench noted from the above-mentioned decision by the Chandigarh Bench, that the benefits extend to all notwithstanding whether the person retired post or prior the stated date. The Bench also took note of another decision by the Apex Court, in Union of India v. Subhash Chander Soni, Civil Appeal No. 4677 of 2014 wherein the Court had upheld the Virendra Singh order and also added that no interest shall be payable in such cases. The Bench concluded that the applicant shall be entitled for the pension of the rank of Naib Subedar and the benefits shall be made applicable from the three preceding years from the date of filing of the Original Application due to the applicant’s long delay in filling the application.[Chandra Singh v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 1432, decided on 03-05-2019]

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