Santosh Devi Vs Union of India & Ors, on 6th May 2016, Supreme Court of India: Case Brief – Read Judgement

Personnel from Regular army and Territorial Army are governed by different set of rules, thus the Court denied claim of violation of Article 14 of Constitution

 Civil Appeal No. 4853 of 2016
Bench: Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur; Justice R. Banumathi

Case Brief: The instance matter is brought in the form of an appeal against the decision which was made by the Armed Forces Tribunal, by which the application filed by the appellant was dismissed by that Tribunal. The Appellant through that application was seeking family pension for the death of her husband who was Ex. Sepoy. In the facts of the case, the said Ex. Sepoy was from 1995 enrolled in the 103 Infantry Battalion and he was disembodied from service from 2008, under Rule 20 of the Territorial Army Rules, 1948 and while his disembodiment, he died at him home in the same year- 2008, due to heart attack. The authorities wide a letter, denied the family pension to the appellant on the ground that the existing rules show that the territorial army personnel who died during disembodied state without completing 15 years of service are not entitled for service pension. Notably, the concerned deceased rendered only 11 years and 289 days’ service. The appellant here is a wife of the deceased. Further, on the request of the wife, the department issued a demand draft of certain rupees on account of service gratuity and death- cum- retirement gratuity. The Appellant feeling aggrieved filed a writ petition in 2009 which later transferred to the Armed Force Tribunal, as it was constituted. And that Tribunal dismissed application, and held that the deceased did not have the requisite minimum qualifying embodied service of 15 years for the said purpose.

 The bench observed that the distinctive features of the Territorial Army and regular army are significant in the case. This bench also considered the relevant provisions of the Territorial Army Act, 1948. Also, it has observed that the terms and conditions of the service of personnel belonging to the regular Indian Army and those belonging to Territorial Army are governed by two different Acts. Moreover, the bench also considered the Regulation 289 of the Pension Regulation for Army (Part I) 1961. for noting that whether members of the territorial army shall be governed by the same regulations as applicable to army personnel. But, bench found credibility with the reasoning of the Tribunal, where it had held that regular army person and person enrolled in the Territorial Army are governed by different set of terms and conditions of service, thus there was no violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. However, this bench after considering the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, and the plight of the appellant, in exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, granted 10 lakh rupees to appellant as award ex- gratia. The bench as such disposed of appeal.

Read the Judgement: Santosh Devi Vs. Union of India & Ors

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