This judgement comes in contrast to other judgement especially of the Delhi High Court which highlighted that the disability should be attributable to military service. From that angle, I feel the Punjab and Haryana High Court has given its judgements taking the holistic view of social justice provisions to those who are in the service of protecting the nation while disagreeing totally with Delhi High Court judgement.
I am hopeful that this trend will boost the morale of the combatant members of the Armed Forces and Hon'ble Supreme Court will also take an appropriate view in the matter giving benefit to the soldiers when this matter reaches them in appeal. For the update on this matter in the Supreme Court, please refer to my post dated 18 July 2011.
Here is the current coverage of the case:
HC allows disability pension for Army personnel on leave (Indian Express)
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that Army personnel will be entitled to disability pension if injured in an accident while on annual/casual leave. As of now, Army personnel who suffer injury during annual leave are denied disability pension.
The order of the Full Bench of the High Court comprising Justices A K Goel, Alok Singh and K Kannan is significant as it disagrees with a judgment given by Full Bench of the Delhi HC on the same issue. With two Full Benches having divergent judgments on the issue, the question of law is all set to be decided by the Supreme Court.
In its 25-page judgment, the Full Bench made it clear that an Army personnel who suffers an injury or meets with an accident during leave will be entitled to disability pension only if the activity, during which he suffers the injury, is compatible with a military activity. For instance, if an Army personnel meets with an accident on leave, he is entitled to disability pension. But he will not be entitled to disability pension if he is injured while engaged in an activity which is not compatible with military service, or gets drunk and enters into a brawl.
The order came on two set of petitions filed by the Union of India against two Army personnel namely former sepoy Sumanjit Singh and former naib subedar Khusbash Singh.
Army men to be treated on duty even if on leave (The Tribune)
Tribune News Service, Chandigarh, April 5
Army personnel on casual or annual leave shall be considered on duty in case of any mishap, a three-Judge Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled.
The Bench made it clear that to decide their disability pension entitlement, it was to be seen whether the disability was attributable to or aggravated by military service.
With this, the Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice K Kannan and Justice Alok Singh has put to rest the controversy on disability pension entitlement of Army personnel suffering disability in accidents while on leave. So far, more often than not they were denied disability pension on the ground of not being on duty, while on leave.
The assertion comes with a rider. The Bench has clarified the only exception is “when by the virtue of Rule 11 of the leave rules, he could not be deemed to be on duty, if he had not actually performed duty in that year”.
The ruling came on a bunch of two petitions by the Union of India against two Army personnel. “In both cases, the disability had arisen through accidents during leave.”
Speaking for the Bench, Justice Kannan asserted: “If the Army personnel were on duty and they suffer disability due to natural causes, the issue whether it was attributable to or aggravated by military service will be examined by taking the case of Army personnel as they were and examining whether it was intervention of the Army service that caused the disability….
“In cases where the injury that resulted in the disability was due to an accident, which was not due to natural, pathological, physiological or psychological cause, the question that has to be answered is whether the activity or conduct that led to the accident was the result of any activity that is even remotely connected to military service.
“An activity of an independent business, or avocation or calling that would be inconsistent to military service, and an accident occurring during such activity, cannot be attributable to military service,” the Bench concluded.
However, to decide their disability pension entitlement in case of any mishap, it is to be seen whether the disability is attributable to or aggravated by military service
Rider in the ruling is “when by the virtue of Rule 11 of the leave rules, he could not be deemed to be on duty, if he had not actually performed duty in that year”
Earlier Delhi High Court Order
The Delhi High Court has ruled that an Army man cannot claim disability pension for an injury resulting from an activity not connected with military service.
New Delhi, Aug 24 : The Delhi High Court has ruled that an Army man cannot claim disability pension for an injury resulting from an activity not connected with military service.
A Special Bench comprising Justices Vikramjit Sen, Sanjeev Khanna and S L Bhayana passed the verdict following a difference of opinion between the judges in a Division Bench.
While referring to a Supreme Court ruling the Special Bench observed, "Injury or death resulting from an activity not connected with military service would not justify and sustain a claim for disability pension."
"This is so regardless of whether the injury or death has occurred at the place of posting or during the working hours," the Bench added.
The Court dismissed a plea of ex Naik Dilbagh for disability pension in addition to family pension. Dilbagh, in a petition, claimed for the disability pension after he had received a head injury in a road accident on Delhi-Panipat road while going to a school for the admission of his child on December 25, 1993.
Dilbagh was on a casual leave from December 12 to 29, 1993 at the time of the accident.