Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of R.F. Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. dismissed writ petitions filed by army personnel — Major, Lieutenant, and Sepoy — against their transfer from Army Service Corps. to operational units.

The petitioners challenged the transfer as violative of their fundamental rights under Article 14 and 21. They relied on the Supreme Court decision in Union of India v. P.K. Choudhury, (2016) 4 SCC 236. They submitted that in the case mentioned, the Court held that ASC is a non-operational unit based on the stand taken by Union of India. While the respondent-Union of India and Military Secretary Branch — assailed the maintainability of the petition. Furthermore, it was contended that an employee has no legal right, much less a fundamental right, to be posted in a particular place or to be transferred to a place of his choice.

The Supreme Court gave due consideration to the submissions made by the parties. It referred to the composition of Army to understand the contextual matrix of the case. It was seen that the ASC is a vital stream primarily responsible for ensuring the provisioning, procurement, and distribution of supplies. The Court held that the petitioners had failed to show how their fundamental rights were violated. Posting and transfers are a necessary incident of service. The case of P.K. Choudhury was distinguished as it was concerned only with promotions and not transfer. The petitioners did not make any submission that the posting was in violation of any statutory rule, executive policy or instruction. Furthermore, the Court referred to the Oath administered to all army personnel alike at the time of commissioning the relevant portion of which reads — “I hereby solemnly swear that I will … go wherever ordered, by land, sea or air…”.  The Court thus held that army personnel are duty bound to serve wherever they are ordered to. In view of the above, the petitions were dismissed. [Amod Kumar v.  Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1372, decided on 06-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Deciding an appeal challenging the judgment passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal where the application for seeking pension on husband’s death was dismissed, the bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and R. Banumathi, J., allowed the ex-gratia grant of 10 Lakh to the appellants.

In the case, where the wife sought family pension for the death of her husband, it was contended that denial of family pension to the ‘next of kin’ of territorial army personnel who died after being disembodied from service is against the Article 14 of the Constitution. It was further contended that the Pension regulation for Army, 1961 apply to both regular army personnel and personnel of territorial army. On the contrary, the respondants contended that as per existing Pension Regulations, the territorial army personnel who died during disembodied state without completing fifteen years of embodied service are not entitled to receive service pensions. Also, emphasis was laid to Section 2 of Regulation 62 of ‘Ordinary Family Pension’ which states that ‘the regulations shall not apply to the members of territorial army other than those who die while rendering embodied service.

Considering the above mentioned contentions and the Report of Ministry of Defence for Reduction of Litigation, Review of Service & Pension Matters 2015 which states that ‘if the families of regular military personnel who die on leave are entitled to receive pension then by same logic even families of Territorial Army personnel are also entitled’, the Court, in the interest of justice and in exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India awarded grant of rupees ten lakhs payable to the appellant as against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal.[Santosh Devi v Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 479 , decided on May 6, 2016].