Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 21
The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has stopped the recovery of pay and allowances from the pension of a disabled Lieutenant Colonel who had been invalided out of the Army due to a psychiatric illness. It was found that the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) had incorrectly revised the date of his effective discharge from service to an earlier date and had started deducting the salary paid to him for the said period even though he was still in service.
The officer had been invalided out on March 31, 2003. The CDA authorities later issued a corrigendum changing the date of invalidation to September 3, 2002, and had started recovering the pay and allowances of the petitioner granted while in service from September 2002 to March 2003.
Terming the aforesaid action totally illegally and arbitrarily and that too without any show-cause notice, the petitioner had contended that he received a revised corrigendum pension payment order five years after his invalidation, specifying the change in dates and that Rs 2.39 lakh paid to him on account of pay and allowances till March 31, 2003 were to be recovered.
He had been hospitalised in various military hospitals for psychiatric ailment, attributable to military service, from March to October 2002, spending a total 211 days in hospital and on sick leave. According to leave rules, no pay and allowances are admissible for hospitalisation beyond 180 days. On October 4, 2001, he was discharged and sent to his unit, where he stayed for four days. He was again hospitalised after this till March 31, 2003. On seeing no improvement in his disability, the officer was invalided from service and dispatched directly to home in a “very delicate medical condition”. He was granted pension with effect from April 1, 2003.
When he took up the case of the corrigendum with the authorities, it was discovered that the CDA had not taken into account his joining back on duty from October 4 to October 9, 2002, and had treated the entire period from March 8, 2002 to March 31, 2003 as hospitalisation and had further treated the period from September 4, 2002 onwards as retirement. The CDA had hence wrongly treated the date of pension as September 4, 2002 instead of March 3, 2003.
The CDA later issued a letter stating that the revised date of invalidation shown by the pension authorities was indeed incorrect and it was to be corrected accordingly, but the recovery was correct since no pay and allowances were admissible from September 2002 to March 2003 on account of hospitalisation.
The petitioner contended that he had been on duty from October 4 to 9 in between two spells of hospitalisation and he had only crossed the 180 days limit by 31 days in the first spell.
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