The Punjab and Haryana high court has dismissed an order from the Chandigarh bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) about denying war-injury pension and asked it to reconsider it and decide afresh in three months.
On May 13, 2013, the AFT had rejected the claim of soldier Rajesh Kumar Sharma for this pension, holding that he had been wounded changing a flat tyre and the injury couldn’t be classified as “battle casualty”. Sharma had suffered a fracture when his unit was being mobilised for peacetime exercise Kawach-2, treated as “war-like operation”.
The Court of Inquiry also treated it the injury as attributable to military service. The bench comprising justices Surya Kant and Jaspal Singh observed that the central government had explained in the circular, “Circumstances for classifying casualties as battle or physical-battle casualties”, that “any casualty occurring during deployment or mobilisation of troops for taking part in war or war-like operations, will be treated as battle casualty”.
The high court bench commented that the AFT had proceeded contrary to the union government instructions. It dismissed the earlier order of the tribunal and remanded it for fresh adjudication in “accordance with law and the central government instructions”.
The AFT bench comprising justice Rajesh Chandra and lieutenant general NS Brar (retd) had reasoned that battle inoculation by its very nomenclature was carried out to familiarise soldiers with the battlefield environment and hazards. It involved putting troops in bunkers and trenches, and live firing near and over them, but in case of Sharma, he had been injured changing a tyre, which could not be termed to have occurred in a war-like situation, the AFT bench had added.