The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ordered that once declared an ex-serviceman, a person cannot be denied canteen facility.
Ramesh Chander Sharma, a resident of Karnal, joined the army as a regular sepoy in 1977 and retired after serving for four years and 145 days. He was allowed to avail canteen facilities, but after December 31, 1987, his card was cancelled.
The army told the court that Sharma was denied the facility as he did not complete the required qualifying service. It added that Sharma was wrongly getting the facility earlier and according to the army rules, he was not entitled to the facility. It was submitted that there could not be any estoppel to withdraw a facility if it was wrongly afforded to an individual.
Sharma told the court that by an earlier judgment, the AFT had granted him a status of ex-serviceman as then the court had ruled that those personnel who had served more than six months prior to 1987 were entitled to get the status of ex-serviceman.
But the army contested that Sharma left the army on his own request before completing the mandatory period of five years.
The bench comprising Justice Prakash Krishan and Air Marshal SC Mukul ruled, "Having it held that the petitioner is entitled to get the status of ex-serviceman, the respondents (army) in absence of any other rule prohibiting an ex-serviceman to enjoy the facility of canteen cannot refuse to issue a smart card for the canteen facility to the petitioner (Sharma).