Disabled child entitled to lifetime pension
Observing that pension controlling authorities cannot amend a policy issued by the President, the Armed Forces Tribunal, in an important judgement, has held that the disabled ward of a deceased serviceman is entitled to family pension for his entire life, even if married.
Disposing of a petition filed by the disabled son of a deceased soldier, the Tribunal has restored the family pension to the son, who is 80 per cent disabled.
The petitioner's father had died in 1994, while his mother had expired before. Earlier, on a service-member’s or pensioner’s death, family pension was paid to the son till the age of 21 years, later extended to 25 years only.
In 1987, the Central government promulgated a policy that provided that in case of a mentally or physically handicapped son or daughter, the family pension shall be granted for the entire lifetime of the ward. The policy was again reiterated vide another letter issued in 1991 wherein an additional condition was imposed that the grant of family pension shall be subject to the condition that the handicapped person is not already receiving any pension from any Central or state government or any other organisation under the government.
The Petitioner was duly granted family pension after the death of his father in 1994 till the age of 25 years, that is, till 2002. The pension was thereafter continued after 2002 vide another order for his entire life based on the policy of 1987 and 1991 since he fulfilled all conditions.
The pension was, however, stopped by the Defence Pension Disbursing Officer, Bhiwani, in 2008 on the pretext that the petitioner was married and married handicapped persons were not eligible for family pension.
The case for continuation of the family pension was rejected by the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts on the grounds that they had issued a circular in 2005 on clarifications sought from the Defence Ministry, in which it was stated that disabled sons and daughter became ineligible for family pension on getting married.
It was brought to the Tribunal's notice that no such restriction was imposed in the Government of India's letter of 1987 and 1991, the only restriction being that the person should not be receiving any other pension.