When 27-year-old Major Arvind Suhag took on the Pakistani Army in the Kargil war during which an accident crippled him for life, little did he realize that his next battle will be with the government, which callously denied him war injury pension.
The 100% disability that he had suffered meant that he needed help to move out of his bed at his home in Gurgaon.
But full of determination, he finally got justice after a seven-year legal battle with the defence ministry when the Delhi high court on Friday directed the payment of the pension and also imposed a fine of Rs. 50,000 on the ministry for the “cavalier attitude”.
Suhag’s jeep had fallen into a gorge during an operational move from Batalik to Leh.
He was discharged from service in March 2005 with all benefits and the disability pension.
“It was unjustified and inhuman on the part of the defence ministry to deny pension to a personnel who worked in extremely trying circumstances merely on the ground that injuries were sustained in a road accident and was not directly war-related”, Jyoti Singh, his lawyer, told the court
Endorsing her argument, a bench headed by justice S Ravindra Bhat said: “For our today, they have given their tomorrow. When individuals place their lives on peril in the line of duty, the sacrifices that they are called upon to make cannot ever be lost sight of through such abstract rationalization.
"The injuries were casually classified as those ordinarily suffered while proceeding on duty in a government vehicle”.
Singh told the court, the defence ministry was to be blamed for the callousness as the Adjutant General’s office had twice recommended Suhag’s case for war injury pension but it was rejected.