At 86 years of age, a World War-2 veteran has won a 62-year-old battle for pension and the dignity of invalid soldiers.
The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) not only admitted his petition but also granted him his retirement benefit.
On December 27, 1942, Ishar Singh of Yamunanagar in Haryana joined the Signal Regiment of the Royal Indian Army. On April 12, 1948, the winner of War Medal and Indian Independence Medal was made to retire on medical grounds.
Ishar, who had osteoarthritis of the spine, gained a disability pension of Rs 6 per month. On April 12, 1950, the benefit was stopped when his disability fell below 20%. Pleading with the army was in vain. In 1989, a re-survey medical board ruled that his disability was low indeed.
The army withheld his service element, for he had served it for less than 10 years. The illiterate war hero lived on agriculture in his village.
In March 2011, he approached the All-India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (AIEWA), which took up the case under its legal aid scheme. In October 2011, the petition was filed. “A notice was issued to the union government,” said Bhim Sen Sehgal, chairman of the AIEWA, who represented Ishar in court. “The government replied it had no data on the World War veteran.”
The AFT took the documents-service record, pension book and certificate issued by the re-survey medical board as evidence. The bench allowed the service element of the disability pension but restricted the arrears to three years from the filing of petition.