Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 14, 2011
In a proactive move to reduce litigation, the Army Headquarters (AHQ) has asked all army commands to ensure that contested litigation concerning retired personnel are withdrawn where the issue involved is well settled by previous judgments.
The Adjutant General’s (AG) branch at AHQ has issued directives to officers in charge of litigation at the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and the High Courts that cases involving settled legal position in the favour of veterans should not be contested in courts since it results in unnecessary financial strain on former defence personnel as well as the Union of India.
Sources said this is for the first time that such orders have been issued. The AG’s branch has also issued specific direction to its officers that cases where medical board recommendations in favour of disabled personnel have been wrongly overruled by administrative authorities should not be contested and should be withdrawn.
The AG’s branch has also directed that cases should also not be contested where individuals with non-service related disabilities are medially boarded out with a little less than 10 years of service which is the minimum qualifying service required for invalid pension in cases of disabilities which are neither attributable to nor aggravated by service conditions.
The AG’s branch has further sensitised military authorities that individuals with non-service related disabilities should not be boarded out if they are nearing the minimum service limit of 10 years for earning an invalid pension. There is no minimum service requirement however to earn disability pension in cases with attributable or aggravated disabilities.
A large number of veterans have welcomed the AG’s directives. In recent times objections were raised by many veterans’ organisations on the tendency of the Defence Ministry of appealing against all pensionary decisions rendered by Courts in favour of defence veterans. “The directions issued by the AG is salutary move that is in line with the National Litigation Policy and which would reduce the burden on poor litigants as well as the courts, leaving time for more complex matters to be litigated,” Maj Navdeep Singh, President of the AFT Bar Association said.
The courts are flooded with pension related litigation, with disability pension claims forming the bulk. While the military authorities per se try to be helpful to disabled personnel, most of the litigation is directed towards non-adherence of rules by medical boards while determining attributability or aggravation of disabilities and towards the CDA authorities whom veterans say are insensitive to the problems of former soldiers.