SC upholds AFT decision to pay ₹10 lakh relief to soldier’s widowUpdated: Dec 09, 2019 22:55 IST
The Supreme Court has upheld a decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Chandigarh, in which a Rewari soldier’s widow, Navindra Devi, was granted compensation of ₹10 lakh along with special family pension. The soldier had died in 1998.
The judgment by a bench of the AFT comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt Gen HS Panag was passed in 2011 in which Navindra Devi’s husband, while posted near Bikaner had developed psychiatric problems for which he was given electric shocks at a civil hospital. Thereafter, he was sent on leave to recuperate. A few days after returning from leave, the psychiatrically ill soldier wandered out of the unit and went missing. He was later found near Delhi railway station by Government Railway Police (GRP) who in turn requested the army authorities to collect him.
However, his unit and military authorities in Delhi kept exchanging letters, shifting the onus on each other. While the correspondence continued, the GRP let go of him when no one came forward to take him over. His body was recovered later.
The AFT had observed that there was negligence in handling the issue since no care was taken to keep the soldier under medical supervision and then to bring him back from GRP. The AFT had observed that Court of Inquiry, which is mandatory under rules, was not held. It was held 11 years after the death on judicial intervention.
The Union ministry of defence had challenged the decision in the SC but the Apex Court had dismissed the appeal and directed the government to release the amount within eight weeks.
The Supreme Court last week has observed that the court is not inclined to interfere with the order of the AFT Chandigarh.
However, the finding recorded by the Tribunal that army authorities were directly responsible for the death of the husband of the Navindra Devi, were directed to be expunged from the record.
The SC has directed to release the amount of ₹10, 00,000/- granted by the AFT to the respondent, within a period of eight weeks.