The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to consider grant of disability pension to a soldier, discharged on disciplinary grounds due to alcohol dependency.
A bench headed by justice D.Y. Chandrachud emphasised that a humanitarian view should be taken in the matter, especially in a case where a soldier has served the nation in difficult conditions. Justice Chandrachud said: “We have to look at the human side of justice. This is a man who has served at the front…”.
The bench, also comprising justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, said though there is a possibility of a strong case against grant of pension, but still a humanitarian view can be taken in the matter and if the court interferes with his pension now, then it will have an impact on the family of the soldier.
Justice Chandrachud told the Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, representing the central government: “We judges are also humans. When we see coffins being carried you know…”. Divan submitted before the bench that the respondent is not entitled to the pension, as alcohol dependency is a serious disciplinary issue in the armed forces.
The bench asked Divan to try and carve an exception for the concerned soldier and apply a broader perspective with respect to the family. “He served in Kargil…He got pension… See, he has a family. Sometimes you have to look at the human side of justice. Create a small exception for this man. You seek instructions,” the bench told Divan. After hearing arguments, the bench adjourned the matter, while asking Divan to get instructions.
During the hearing, the bench pointed at the instance where two pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were killed after a MiG-21 fighter aircraft crashed in Rajasthan’s Barmer district last week.
Wing Commander Mohit Rana (39) and Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal (26) lost their lives in the IAF fighter aircraft crash in Barmer.
The top court was hearing an appeal by the central government against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal granting disability pension to the one Naginder Singh, who was discharged from service on disciplinary grounds, due to alcohol dependency.