UNION OF INDIA & ORS vs EX. NAIK RAM SINGH

UNION OF INDIA & ORS vs EX. NAIK RAM SINGH

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


NON­REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9654 OF 2014
UNION OF INDIA & ORS.                …  APPELLANTS
      v.
EX. NAIK RAM SINGH                       …  RESPONDENT
J  U  D  G  M  E  N  T
ABHAY S. OKA, J.
1. The appellants, Union of India and three others, have taken
an exception to the judgment and order dated 23rd December 2010
of   the   Armed   Forces   Tribunal,   Chandigarh   Bench   at
Chandimandir (for short, ‘the Tribunal’). 
2. By the impugned judgment and order, the appellants were
directed   to   release   the   disability   pension   quantified   at   80%
disability for life to the respondent from the date of his discharge
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from military service. The appellants were directed to pay arrears
of   disability   pension   restricted   to   a   period   of   three   years
immediately preceding filing of the application by the respondent
before the Tribunal. Interest @10% per annum was granted on the
arrears.
3. The respondent was enrolled in the Army on 4th June 1965.
After rendering colour service for 10 years and 88 days, he was
transferred to reserved establishment on 30th August 1975. During
his reserve period, he voluntarily got himself enrolled in Defence
Security Corps on 7th January 1976. On 6th November 1999, the
respondent   was   granted   annual   leave.   He   proceeded   to
Kishanpura on the same day. While on leave, on 8th  November
1999, he suffered an accident. While crossing the road, he was hit
by a speedy scooter. As a result of the accident, he sustained head
injury and became unconscious. The Medical Board assessed the
percentage of the disability of the respondent at 80%. The Medical
Board placed the respondent in low medical category (EEE). On
that ground, he was invalidated out of service from 28th September
2000.
4. The respondent made an application to the Armed Forces
Tribunal praying for grant of disability pension. In the impugned
judgment,   the   Tribunal   relied   upon   its   decision   dated   15th
December 2010 in T.A. No.237 of 2010 (Ex. NK. Raj Pal v. Union
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of India & Ors.). The Tribunal held that if an individual sustains
an injury during the period of any kind of authorized leave and his
act was not inconsistent with Military service, his disability is
deemed to be attributable to Military service.
5. On   6th  December   2013,   this   Court   issued   notice   to   the
respondent. After service of notice, the respondent did not appear.
While granting leave on 10th  October 2014, a fresh notice was
issued   to   the   respondent   which   has   been   duly   served.   The
respondent did not enter appearance even thereafter. 
6. Shri K.M. Nataraj, learned Additional Solicitor General urged
that there has to be a reasonable connection between the injuries
sustained by a member of Armed Forces resulting in disability and
the Military service. He invited our attention to Regulation 173 of
the   Pension   Regulations   for   the   Army,   1961   (for   short,   ‘the
Pension Regulations’). He also invited our attention to Rule 12 of
the Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pensionary Awards, 1982. He
submitted that the accident occurred couple of days after the
respondent travelled from the place of his duty to leave station. He
would submit that the respondent was disentitled to disability
pension. He fairly pointed out that the decision of the Tribunal in
T.A.No.237 of 2010 relied upon in the impugned judgment, was
challenged   by   the   Union   of   India.   However,   the   special   leave
petition was dismissed summarily. He submitted that what holds
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the field is the decision of this Court in the case of Union of India
& Ors. v. Vijay Kumar No.3989606 P, Ex­Naik1
7. On facts, it is an admitted position that the respondent was
granted annual leave on 6th November 1999. He proceeded on the
same day to leave station. On 8th  November 1999, when he was
crossing the road, he suffered an accident. As noted earlier, his
disability was assessed at 80%. Regulation 173 of the Pension
Regulations reads thus.:
“173.Primary   conditions   for   the   grant   of
disability   pension.­Unless   otherwise
specifically   provided   a   disability   pension
consisting   of   service   element   and   disability
element may be granted to an individual who is
invalidated out of service on account of disability
which is attributable to or aggravated by military
service in non­battle casualty and is assessed at
20% or over.”
(underline supplied)
8. The   Entitlement   Rules,   1982   and   in   particular   Rule   12,
defines ‘Duty’. Clause (d) of Note 2 which is a part of Rule 12
clarifies that personnel while travelling between the place of their
duty to leave station and vice­versa, shall be treated on duty. It is
not   the   case   made   out   by   the   respondent   that   the   accident
occurred when he was travelling to leave station. It happened after
he reached the leave station.  Unless the disability is attributable
1 2015 (10) SCC 460
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to or aggravated by military service and is more than 20%, the
entitlement to disability pension does not arise.
9. This Court in the case of  Vijay  Kumar1
, after considering
Regulation 173 of the Pension Regulations and Rule 12 of the
Entitlement Rules, 1982, in paragraph 14 held thus.:
“14. The   Entitlement   Rules   for   Casualty
Pensionary Awards, 1982 are beneficial in nature
and ought to be liberally construed. In terms of
Rule   12,   the   disability   sustained   during   the
course of an accident which occurs when the
personnel of the armed forces is not strictly on
duty   may   also   be   attributable   to   service   on
fulfilling   of   certain   conditions   enumerated
therein. But there has to be a reasonable causal
connection   between   the   injuries   resulting   in
disability and the military service.”
(underline supplied)
10. What is held above, is the binding precedent. In the present
case, as noted earlier, two days after the respondent reached the
leave station, he met with an accident on a public road. There is
absolutely   no   nexus   between   the   Military   service   and   injuries
sustained   by   the   respondent.   There   is   not   even   a   causal
connection. The Tribunal has completely overlooked this aspect
which goes to the root of the matter. Hence, the respondent was
not entitled to the disability pension. 
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11. Accordingly, Civil Appeal is allowed. Impugned Judgment
dated 23rd  December 2010 is hereby set aside. O.A. No.944 of
2010 filed by the respondent stands dismissed. No order as to
costs.
…………….…………J.
          (Abhay S. Oka)
…………….…………J.
           (M.M. Sundresh)
July 18th, 2022
New Delhi.
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