Armed Forces Tribunal

Armed Force Tribunal: Coram of Justice S.V.S. Rathore (Judicial Member) and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Administrative Member) dismissed an application filed by the wife of an army officer seeking a grant of Special Family Pension, holding that the same was devoid of merits.

The facts were that the applicant’s husband was on annual leave. He got injured while he was traveling to his father-in-law’s house by a vehicle which met with an accident due to negligent driving. He was taken to hospital for treatment but he died on the way to the hospital. After the death of her husband, the applicant prayed for gratuity and Special Family Pension, but she was denied the same and granted ordinary family pension, on the ground that death of her husband had no casual connection with Army duty. It was claimed by the applicant that the Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pensionary Awards, 1982 stipulates that death disability in such cases must be deemed to be attributable to military service and as such Special Family Pension ought to have been granted by the respondents. By means of this Original Application, she prayed for the setting of the order denying Special Family Pension and requested for issuance of an order to the respondents to pay Special Family Pension from the date of death of her husband with arrears.

In the Original Application, reference was made of a case of Gurmit Singh Butter v. Union of India, 2000 (5) SLR, wherein it had been held that “casual leave, annual leave, furlough or medical leave, the relationship of employees and employer does not cease and the same shall continue”.

In the counter affidavit, it is stated that FIR to this accident was lodged and the Station Commander recommended that “the death of the deceased may be regarded to Military Service in peace”. But, the Officiating Commander in his order directed that “the death of deceased is not attributable to Military Service” and so the Special Family Pension claim of the applicant was rejected.

The Tribunal opined that under Section 16 of the Pension Regulatory, there are certain necessary conditions for grant of Special Family Pension. Keeping in view this regulation, it was clear that there must be a causal connection between the cause of injury and army duty. The Court relied on the judgment passed by this Bench in Shreepal v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine AFT 8045 in which it was held that Army personnel will be deemed to be on duty when he is on any type of authorized leave during traveling to or from home from the place of posting.

It was held that in the instant case there was any causal connection with the Army duty and the accident. Thus, his accident could not be treated as being attributable to military service. Hence, it was held that there was no illegality or irregularity in the impugned order.[Sanju Singh v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 1433, decided on 10-05-2019]

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