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Monday, May 4, 2015
Apex court comes to the rescue of disabled war hero - Brig was denied pension by MoD
Chandigarh, May 3
The Supreme Court has come to the rescue of Brig SS Ahluwalia (retd), who was denied disability pension by the Defence Ministry (MoD), by dismissing a government case against him and entitling him to his dues. During the 1971 operations, SS Ahluwalia lost his limbs due to frostbite while capturing the one of the highest pickets in Jammu and Kashmir at the Soltoro ridge in the Siachen Sector. He had advanced 26 km deep into Pakistan and was decorated with the Vir Chakra and later rose to the rank of Brigadier. Despite his exploits, the MoD gave him a raw deal denying him disability pension for which he had to wage a legal battle.
Brig Ahuluwalia’s case for grant of disability benefits was allowed by the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in 2010.
The MoD had contended that he was not entitled disability pension because he had sought premature retirement. However, four years after his case was allowed, the MoD filed an appeal in the apex court. Commissioned in 1964, he had retired in 2000.
Lawyers point out that contrary to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s concern about litigation against soldiers, the MoD is apparently continuing its tirade against disabled and war disabled soldiers and filing appeals in the Supreme Court against benefits awarded to them by high courts and tribunals.
The MoD since long had been refusing disability and war disability benefits to disabled soldiers who took premature retirement on medical or compassionate grounds till the Sixth Pay Commission asked it to change its policy.
Later while the MoD granted disability benefits to voluntary retirees, it allowed the same only to those who retired after January 2006 and not earlier. This cut-off date was later stuck down by courts. Military veterans have been up in arms against the MoD’s policy of filing en masse appeals against disabled veterans and old pensioners. (Source - Vijay Mohan, Tribune News Service)