The apex court has also clarified that in the event of his subsequent discharge from service on medical grounds, any deterioration in his health is presumed to be due to military service. A division bench comprising Justices Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya and N V Ramana passed these orders on Tuesday while upholding a decision passed by the Chandigarh bench of Armed Forces Tribunal in the case of an airman Angad Singh Titaria.
SC bench also clarified that the provision of disability pension is a beneficial provision, which ought to be interpreted liberally so as to help those who have been sent home with disability at times even before they completed their tenure in the armed forces. "A soldier cannot be asked to prove that the disease was contracted by him on account of military service or was aggravated by the same. The burden to establish such a disconnect would lie heavily upon the employer for otherwise the rules raise a presumption that the deterioration in the health of the member of the service is on account of military service or aggravated by it," held the bench while referring to several earlier rulings of the apex court.
Angad Titaria had joined the Indian Air Force on November 13, 1971 in the clerical trade after he was found medically and physically fit as per prescribed standards. In 1987, he was diagnosed for coronary artery disease, namely infero-lateral myocardial infarction, and in 2006 he was diagnosed for diabetes mellitus.
In April 2008, he was released from the Air Force on recommendation of the medical board and was denied disability pension. The board was of the opinion that he had always remained posted at peace stations, and in that situation his disabilities were constitutional in nature and not attributable to or aggravated by service in the Air Force.
Angad moved the AFT, Chandigarh, against the Air Force seeking disability pension. On December 3, 2010, a division bench of AFT comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prasad and Lt Gen H S Panag had ordered the Air Force authorities to pay him disability pension but the Union government had approached the apex court against the decision.