New Delhi: Army personnel cannot claim disability pension if he or she gets hurt in an accident while on leave as it has no link with official discharge of duty, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and J S Khehar said that in such cases, courts should not interfere with the findings of the medical board about the cause of accident and eligibility of the personnel to claim the benefit.

"A person claiming disability pension must be able to show a reasonable nexus between the act, omission or commission resulting in an injury to the person and the normal expected standard of duties and way of life expected from such person.

"As the military personnel sustained disability when he was on an annual leave that too at his home town in a road accident, it could not be held that the injuries could be attributable to or aggravated by military service. Such a person would not be entitled to disability pension," the bench said in an order.

The apex court passed the order upholding an appeal filed by the Centre challenging a judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing the government to pay disability pension to Talwinder Singh who suffered disabilities in the eye due to an accident sustained at his hometown while being on leave.

"We are of the view that the opinion of the Medical Board which is an expert body must be given due weight, value and credence. Person claiming disability pension must establish that the injury suffered by him bears a causal connection with military service.

"In the instant case, as the injury suffered by the respondent could not be attributable to or aggravated by the military service he is not entitled for disability pension," the bench said.

The high court had ruled in favour of Singh though the trial court and the First Appellate Court rejected his plea.

Singh who was enrolled in the Sikh Regiment I First Appellate Court on May 23, 1987, he had proceeded on annual leave from March 31, 1990, for a period of two months to his home town, when he suffered injuries being hit by a small wooden piece "Gulli" which children were playing that his left eye seriously damaged.

Army's Release Medical Board in its assessment held that the disability was 30 per cent for life, however, it declared that the said disability was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service.

Despite the board's findings, the high court directed disability pension to Singh following which the Union government appealed in the apex court.

(Agencies)

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