Providing colossal relief for thousands of pre-1996 defence retirees, the Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the central government to enable disability pension at par with post-96 retirees, based on the recommendations of the fifth pay commission regarding broad-banding of disability percentage.
The benefits shall be applicable from the date of retirement.
The orders were pronounced by a bench comprising of Justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen NS Brar at the AFT on Thursday, while allowing petitions filed by as many as 45 petitioners. The bench, ruling out any discrimination against defence personnel on medical grounds, maintained that disability pension be granted to all retirees equally.
The fifth pay commission, in a move to overcome anomalies of medical boards, came up with a recommendation in ’96 that all those who retired on medical grounds, with less than 50% disability, be paid disability element of pension as applicable to 50%, those with disabilities between 50% and 75% be paid disability pension admissible to 75%, while all those with more than 75% disability be paid disability pension at 100% rates.
This was same for both, defence employees, as well as, civilians retiring post ‘96. Later in 2001 the govt extended this rule of paying disability pension to the pre-96 retirees as well, but only in the case of civilians.
In 2010, the government, in the case of defence individuals, extended the post ’96 pension benefits to those retiring before ’96, but only with effect from July 1, 2009.
The decision by the government to extend benefits with effect from July 1, 2009 became a controversial issue with many turning to the AFT for relief. The petitioners stated that they were being discriminated against and when in case of civilians the benefits are applicable since the time they retired before ’96, the same should be applicable to them as well.
AFT, taking note of the directions issued by the fifth pay commission, ruled that individuals cannot be discriminated and benefits should be at par with post-96 retirees and as granted to civlians.