Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Division Bench of Justice Umesh Chandra Srivastava (Chairperson) and Vice Admiral Abhay Raghunath Karve (Member) A, heard the instant application seeking for grant of disability pension.
The facts of the case were such that the applicant was enrolled in Army on 29-07-2003 and was invalided out from service on 17-08-2016 in the low medical category. The Invaliding Medical Board (IMB) assessed his disabilities;
- Alcohol Dependence Syndrome at 19% and
- Primary Hypertension at 30%, composite at 40% for life and opined that disability of the applicant was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service (NANA).
The applicant submitted representation dated 02–2016 to the Chief of the Army Staff which was disposed off vide order dated 28-12-2016 and the applicant was discharged from service also the State had rejected the request of applicant for the grant disability pension.
Grievances of the applicant were that the applicant was medically fit when he was enrolled in the service and any disability not recorded at the time of enrolment should be presumed to have been caused subsequently while in service. The applicant contended that action of the respondents in not granting disability pension to the applicant was illegal, therefore, the disability (Primary Hypertension) of the applicant was to be considered as aggravated by service and he was entitled to get disability pension duly rounded off to 50%.
The Tribunal though, opined that Alcohol Dependence Syndrome was NANA in light of the fact that it was due to prolonged alcohol abuse. It was also observed that the said disease was also below 20%.
However, with regard to Primary Hypertension, the Tribunal noticed that the only reason for declaring the disease as NANA was that it had originated in peace area and not connected to military service. On further scrutiny, the Tribunal observed that the said disability was initially detected in the year 2013 after about 10 years of service. Therefore, it was held,
“The reasons given for declaring disease as NANA were very brief and cryptic in nature and did not adequately explain the denial of attributability.”
The Tribunal denied the view that there was no stress and strain of service in military stations located in peace areas. Thus, it was held that second disability i.e. Primary Hypertension at 30% for life was to be considered as aggravated by military service because stress and strain of military service in line with the law settled on this matter by the Supreme Court in the case of Dharamvir Singh v. Union of India, (2013) 7 SCC 316.
In the light of above, the State was directed to round off second disability from 30% to 50% for life in terms of the decision of Supreme Court in Union of India v. Ram Avtar, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 1761. The impugned order was set aside and the respondents were directed to give effect to this order within four months. [Devender Kumar Singh v. Union of India, Original Application No 480 of 2017, decided on 01-02-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together