Lucknow: In a major step, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has restored the pension of retired honorary naib subedar, Krishana Pal Singh following his release after serving his jail sentence.
Singh had joined the Army in January 1981 and served for more than 24 years.
He was booked for murder in his home district of Aligarh nearly one and a-half-years after his retirement from the Corps of Signals.
After court proceedings, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and was released more than 15 years later, on April 30, 2022.
While serving jail term, his pension was stopped from December 2009 under provisions that he would be entitled for it after his “acquittal” only.
After release from jail, Singh approached the AFT’s Lucknow regional bench, where the judge citing the AFT Chandigarh order, stated, that the Pension Regulations for the Army, 1961(Part II), makes it clear that pension could be suspended during the period of imprisonment, but after ‘release’, the pension has to restored.
The order was issued by Justice Ravindra Nath Kakkar and Major General Sanjay Singh.
In the order, the bench citing the AFT Chandigarh order in Chandra Singh vs Union of India, decided in September 2013 said, “The word used in the Regulation is ‘Release’ and not ‘Acquittal’.
“These are two entirely different words having different meanings. One cannot be equated with another. If the word ‘Release’ is equated with the word ‘Acquittal’ then it would mean that if the hearing in the appeal does not take place for 20 years, the petitioner will not get the pension for 20 years till his acquittal. That cannot be the intention of the framers of the Regulations.”
“The interpretation given by the AFT Chandigarh does not seem to have been modified or annulled by any higher forum and therefore, it has the binding effect. The action of the ministry of defence to stop pension without serving show cause notice or without providing opportunity of hearing to the applicant is against the principle of natural justice too. Therefore, the pension must be restored with immediate effect,” read the order.