The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday put stay on the judgment of Chandigarh bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) which had ruled that matters related to Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF) can be adjudicated by the AFT.
The division bench comprising justices Hemant Gupta and Fateh Deep Singh while taking up a the petition filed by AGIF also issued notice of motion to the AFT and Union government for filing reply by July 15.
It was on February 19 that the AFT had ruled that since beneficiaries of AGIF scheme are within the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007, it could adjudicate such cases. The decision had come from the full bench comprising justice Rajesh Chandra, justice Vinod Kumar Ahuja and Lt Gen NS Brar (retd).
However, appearing for the AGIF, advocate Akshay Kumar Goel submitted to the court on Thursday that AGIF benefits are not part and parcel of retirement benefits and even the Centre had no control over affairs of AGIF. Hence, AFT's decision was arbitrary to adjudicate upon such cases and jurisdiction of such cases was before the civil courts.
Whereas, AFT's full bench had ruled, "It would be against the spirit of the Act (AFT Act) and setting up of the Tribunal if service personnel or their dependents were to litigate before the Armed Forces Tribunal for some benefits and before a civil court for AGIF benefits. We also find it obligatory that every army personnel has to be a member of the AGIF for which compulsory contribution is recovered from his emoluments."