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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Notice to AFT, govt on denying pension

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, March 06, 2014
First Published: 23:25 IST(6/3/2014) | Last Updated: 23:38 IST(6/3/2014)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday issued a notice of motion to the union government and the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on a challenge to an order denying complete arrears to defence pensioners.

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Deciding on a bunch of 53 petitions, the tribunal had held that retired soldiers would get the enhanced-pension arrears of only six months and not counting from January 1, 1996. The petition in the high court is filed through All-India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (AIEWA) chairman Bhim Sen Sehgal.

The case
The issue concerns a fifth Central Pay Commission case where an anomaly was removed in 1997 but the anomaly-free scales of 1997 were, later, given with effect from not 1996 but prospectively.

The Punjab and Haryana high court had decided that the pension would be granted from the date of the inception of the anomaly, a verdict upheld in the Supreme Court in 2010. The government, later, extended the benefit to all pensioners but only with effect from July 2009.

For getting the arrears from January 1, 1996, soldiers approached the AFT, where a bench comprising justice Rajesh Chandra and lieutenant general NS Brar (retd) held that it could award arrears for only six months, resulting in zero benefit to the pensioners.

The judgment is challenged on the ground that the AFT Act prescribes limitation of six months for approaching the AFT with regard to in-service matters such as promotions and no limitation can be imposed on retiral benefits based on existing general directions, as held by the constitutional courts.

The petition argues that no other bench of the tribunal has passed any similar directions and that the decision is even against many earlier judgments of the Supreme Court and coordinate bench of the Chandigarh AFT itself.

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