Armed Forces Tribunal

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Division Bench of Justice Devi Prasad Singh (Chairperson) and Air Marshal BBP Sinha, Member (A) heard the instant application wherein the allegation was levelled against the authority concerned of non-observance of Tribunal’s order.

The applicant was enrolled in the Army as Sepoy on 23-01-1980. On account of certain family dispute, coupled with the fact applicant was charged with bigamy, his services were dispensed after serving a show-cause notice on 25-01-1996 i.e. after rendering service for the period of 14 years and 6 months.

The applicant had requested the authorities that the six months’ period required to complete 15 years of service for payment of pensionary benefits be condoned. In the application, the Tribunal had directed the respondents to decide the statutory appeal of the applicant by passing a speaking and reasoned order with regard to condonation of six months’ period so that the applicant may be paid pensionary benefits. However, the same had been decided by a non-speaking order.

The Bench observed that the authorities concerned had the right to condone a period of one year for the purpose of payment of pensionary benefits yet they had not applied mind while complying with the direction Tribunal. The Bench stated,

In case he (the applicant) was entitled to pensionary benefits after the order of discharge, which was not punitive one, it was incumbent upon the respondents to consider the impugned order of discharge without going back to the cause for passing the order of discharge.

If the applicant’s conduct had been bad then it would be open to the respondents to pass an order of dismissal, so that the applicant might not get any retiral benefits even if he had completed the qualifying minimum period of service. Considering that the respondents themselves had taken a lenient view, it was not open for them to look into the backgrounds or reason.

“The order of discharge might have been passed for bigamy but in any case right to avail pensionary benefits and law over the point is one and same and it may not be correct to discriminate any person in the matter in the Armed Forces.”

The Bench opined that once a person is entitled to payment of pensionary benefits after discharge then provision must be considered judiciously for payment of pensionary benefits, more so when no punitive order had been passed. Hence, the respondents were directed to reconsider the application of the applicant expeditiously, keeping in view the prayer made by him for condonation of the period of six months to complete 15 years of service for payment of pensionary benefits. Further, the cost of Rs.50,000 was imposed upon the respondents which were ordered to be released in favour of the applicant.[Ram Bahadur Singh, v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine AFT 9435, decided on 18-01-2018]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Tribunal:

For the applicant: Adv.  Parijaat Belaura

For the respondents: Adv. Shailendra Sharma Atal, and Adv. A.K. Sahu

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