Rejecting seven petitions, the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that sheltered appointments cannot be claimed as a right by disabled soldiers.
Sheltered appointments such as working in an office or military canteen, despatch boy, etc. are considered easier than combat jobs.
The court also ruled that the retention of a soldier placed in the low medical category by providing him with sheltered appointment "is to be decided and certified by the commanding officer (CO)".
The judgment said, "All units of the army are organised and authorised specific manpower based on their 'War Establishment' (WE), where the specific role of each person is defined to achieve the intended overall capability of the unit. There is no formal or specified slot or appointment earmarked as sheltered appointment'. The concept of sheltered appointment is purely for the purpose of consideration for retaining low medical category personnel, especially 'battle casualty'."
It added that sheltered appointment was a creation of considerations of welfare and would be dependent on "public interest, the manpower state of the unit, place of employment, the individual's capacity for gainful alternate employment, unit efficiency etc".
The judgment further said that in case no sheltered appointment could be found, discharge is to be regulated as per rules. " In other words, a sheltered appointment is not a right," the judgment added.
On the procedure of discharge, the bench comprising justice Rajesh Chandra and Lt Gen NS Brar (retd) ruled that after recommendation from the CO for discharge of a disabled soldier, it would be approved by the director general, infantry, army headquarters, and then the soldier would be placed before the medical board and after that it would be sanctioned by the CO.
Capt Sandeep Bansal (retd), counsel for the central government, told the court that the soldiers were allowed to complete the minimum required service for pension and then discharged. He added that the unit was moving to a high-altitude area and it would not be possible to retain these disabled soldiers.