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Similar benefits for casualties on LAC and LoC, rules AFT 

Chandigarh, May 14

In a decision that will go a long way in assuaging the difficulties faced by widows of Army personnel killed on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and who are not being paid pensionary benefits on a par with those who die on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that the government cannot discriminate between the two.

While dealing with the case of Saudamini Mahapatra, who lost her husband in an avalanche in Operation Falcon along the LAC in 1998 and who was denied liberalised family pension, the AFT Bench comprising Justice Indira Shah and Lt Gen Gautam Moorthy has observed that the applicable Army Orders for battle casualties only covered deaths and disabilities on the LoC and the International Border (IB) and not those occurring on the LAC.

While granting liberalised family pension to the widow, which is higher than regular pension and equal to last-drawn pay and paid for the period the person is deemed to have served till the age of superannuation, the AFT has directed the MoD to issue instructions to harmonise its policies in line with the decision.

The tribunal observed that “it would be discriminatory to accept the proposition of availability of benefits on the LoC and IB, but not at the LAC”.

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