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Pension and Disability

 

The PWD Act makes provisions for the protection of employment of disabled persons. It also ensures that a person is not dismissed on acquiring a disability while in service. However, certain establishments such as the armed forces operate differently in this regard. Usually in such establishments, on acquiring a disability, immediate retirement with a disability pension is fixed as per internal rules.

In an umpteen number of cases, it is seen that disability pension is granted to persons who acquire certain disabilities only. Epileptic fits, eye problems, mental problems, amputations after accidents are some of the disabilities for which pension are granted. The issue that comes up in this area is whether the disability was due to the nature of the service or not? Unresolved matters have been brought before the Court. The Courts have granted or refused the pension in an equal number of cases solely on the point of the military’s contribution to aggravating the risks.  Interestingly, most of these cases relate to people working as sweepers, hawaldars, sawars etc. and not as officers.

In certain cases, the Court was of the opinion that once the disability was accepted by a designated medical board it cannot be changed unless under exceptional circumstances. Barring a few cases where the disabled person has approached the Court after considerable delay (26 years in one case), it was held that a claim for discharge from service on compassionate or medical grounds does not bar the right to disability pension. Similarly, disability resulting from an accident during the period of leave was also upheld as the army rules stated that personnel on leave should be considered as on-duty.

Another set of interesting cases that have been looked into are family pensions for disabled children of government servants who were incapable of earning a livelihood. In one instance, the Kerala High Court directed the government to grant family pension to a mentally retarded child, and also that it should be granted from the date of acquiring the disability rather than the day on which the request was made.

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