Armed Forces Tribunal (Lucknow Bench): The Bench of Justice Umesh Chandra Srivastava, Member (J) and Vice Admiral Abhay Raghunath Karve, Member (A), granted war injury pension to World War-2 veteran who suffered splinter wound injury in his right leg. The Bench stated,
“The respondents have tried to justify non grant of war injury pension to applicant by quoting an old Govt letter but this justification is just for the sake of justification and facts are so apparent to us that it clearly shows non application of mind on the subject matter…”
The applicant, an Infantry Army soldier of the British Army who took active part in World War-II in Italy during 1944 and suffered disability leading to invaliding out from service in 1947 had approached the Tribunal for seeking issuance of directions to the respondents to grant War Injury Pension to the applicant for the disability he had with all consequential benefits including balance of arrears till date of payment.
The brief facts of the case were that the applicant was enrolled in the Third Royal Garhwal Battalion of British Army on 06-09-1941 and was injured in a battle in Italy during World War-II. Consequently, he was invalided out from service on 06-04-1947 and granted disability pension w.e.f. 07-04-1947 for life which was revised subsequently. The applicant was in receipt of disability pension for the disability ‘Splinter Wound (HE) of the right knee’ as brought out in the Invaliding Medical Board (IMB). The applicant was claiming war injury pension instead of disability pension.
On the other hand, the respondents contended that the applicant was not entitled to war injury pension in terms of Ministry of Defence letter dated 24-02-1972 which stipulated that policy was applicable to disabled veterans wounded during wars and operations of 1971, 1965 and 1947-48. It was further submitted that since applicant had sustained injury during World War-II, i.e. pre-independence, he was not entitled to war injury pension. It was pointed out before the Tribunal that the case being of pre-Independence period, the medical documents related to applicant hade already been destroyed, therefore, in the absence of relevant medical documents the case could not be decided.
After pursuing the medical records which clearly showed that the applicant was invalided out from service due to splinter wound injury in his right leg knee and the medical board had recommended him to be invalided out in category ‘E’, the Bench opined that the disability suffered by the applicant was war injury, therefore he was entitled to receive war injury pension as the IMB had assessed his disability as attributable to military service in field area. Hence, it was held,
“The injury received on 03-10-1944 was caused on account of war injury in World War-II (Italy) and incumbent was entitled to war injury pension, like other disabled veterans wounded during wars and operations of 1971, 1965 and 1947-48.”
In the light of the above, the Bench directed the authorities concerned to grant war injury pension to the applicant as per rules w.e.f. his date of invalidment, but due to law of limitations, the Bench clarified that the applicant shall be entitled to war injury pension along with arrears w.e.f. three years prior to filing of the OA. The respondents were further directed to revise future pension of the applicant and work out the arrears which should be paid to him within four months.[Govind Singh Rawat v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine AFT 3127, decided on 04-06-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Counsel for the Applicant: Adv. Virat Anand Singh
Counsel for the Union of India: GC Shailendra Sharma Atal