Notice to Ministry of Defense in OROP disability pension case

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion to the Ministry of Defence in a petition challenging the disability pension as per the existing Disability Pension Policy and Circular Number 555, which implements the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) scheme of the Ministry of Defence.

According to the existing norms, the disability element is calculated on the basis of the number of years of services in comparison with the rank of the person. However, the petitioner contends that the disability pension, which is calculated on the basis of last emolument received by the ex-servicemen, is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India because disability affects all persons in exactly the same manner. This is so since the last emolument depends on the rank and years of service in Army. Therefore, the disability element is higher for an officer and lower for a soldier. This discrimination is unlawful because value of an arm or a leg or foot is the same for all men.

Before joining the army, the petitioner was selected in Punjab Police in 1993. However, he decided to join Indian Army because of his patriotic feelings. He joined the Indian Army as Sepoy in Sikh Regiment and was later promoted to the rank of Naik. He was injured in a blast in Kupwara District in Jammu & Kashmir and had to undergo 8 operations and has 2 separate disabilities on the basis of which, his disabilities was calculated as 30%. He took voluntary retirement and is now unemployed, has a wife and two children and even his land is cultivated by his father because petitioner is unable to do that work because of his disability.

The Disability Element is calculated when a person employed in Indian Army suffers a Disability, like loss of a limb. This person may be of any rank and may have rendered less or more years of service. But the fact remains that the same disabilities adversely affect all the persons in exactly the same manner. “It is pertinent to mention here that in disability pension cases, soldiers get only a small share of disability pension, while Officers get a major chunk of it – creating dissatisfaction in ranks of soldiers and non-officers.”