Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Division Bench of Justice Umesh Chandra Srivastava and Vice Admiral Abhay Raghunath Karve, Member (A) granted disability pension to the person invalidated from service due to Hypertension.
The applicant was enrolled in the Army Service Corps on 24-12-1993 and was discharged in Low Medical Category due to PRIMARY HYPERTENSION @30% for life. Since the Release Medical Board (RMB) had opined the disability to be neither attributable to nor aggravated by service, the applicant’s claim for disability pension was rejected by the respondent.
The applicant contended that he was found mentally and physically fit for service in the Army at the time of enrolment and there was no note in the service documents that he was suffering from any disease at the time of enrolment, therefore, the disease of the applicant was contacted during the service, hence it was attributable to and aggravated by Military Service which made him entitled to disability pension and its rounding off to 50%.
The law on attributability of a disability had been settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Dharamvir Singh v.Union of India, (2013) 7 SCC 316, wherein it had been observed that,
“29.5. If no note of any disability or disease was made at the time of individual’s acceptance for military service, a disease which has led to an individual’s discharge or death will be deemed to have arisen in service [Rule 14(b)].
29.6. If medical opinion holds that the disease could not have been detected on medical examination prior to the acceptance for service and that disease will not be deemed to have arisen during service, the Medical Board is required to state the reasons [Rule 14(b)]; and 29.7. It is mandatory for the Medical Board to follow the guidelines laid down in Chapter II of the Guide to Medical Officers (Military Pensions), 2002 – “Entitlement: General Principles”, including Paras 7, 8 and 9 as referred to above.”
Rejecting the opinion of RMB that the disease was neither attributable to and aggravated by Military Service because the applicant was posted in Peace location, the Bench opined that denying disability pension to applicant was not convincing and did not reflect complete truth on the matter. The Bench held that peace Stations have their own pressure of rigorous military training and associated stress and strain of military service, since the applicant’s disability had started after more than 22 years of Army service the Bench was of the view that benefit of doubt in should be given to the applicant and the disability of the applicant should be considered as aggravated by military service.
Regarding rounding off of disability pension, the Bench relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Ram Avtar, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 1761, and held that the impugned order rejecting applicant’s claim for grant of disability element was set aside and the disability of the applicant was held as aggravated by Army Service.
The respondents were directed to grant disability element to the applicant, which was directed to be rounded off to 50% for life from the next date of his discharge. [Naba Kumar Chandra v. Union of India, O.A. No. 237 of 2021, decided on 04-10-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For the Applicant: Advocate Pankaj Kumar Shukla
For the Respondent: Advocate Shaym Singh