In a key judgment, the Kochi bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ordered reinstatement of an Army recruit who was ‘relegated’ following absence from training on medical grounds and eventually discharged from service in 2015.
Recruit S. Adarsh from Muthukulam in Alappuzha had successfully completed his training and been declared medically fit prior to discharge, because of which he became ineligible for disability pension. Setting aside his ‘arbitrary and unfair’ discharge, the AFT has asked the Army to either reinstate him with seniority or grant him disability pension.
Mr. Adarsh had sustained an injury during his basic training at the Army Service Corps (ASC) Centre, Bengaluru, in 2013 which led to his absence from basic training for 98 days and technical training for 35 days. He was, however, physically present and attended all training barring physical training and games for 70 days during the basic training phase and 38 days during technical training.
Relegated, he used the extra period to clear all training requirements and was declared fully fit medically by the Command Hospital of the Air Force in Bengaluru when he was discharged from service citing his ‘absence’ beyond the permitted limit of 210 days. The AFT bench comprising judicial member Babu Mathew P. Joseph and administrative member Lt Gen (retd) Philip Campose observed that the injury suffered by the recruit was attributable to service.
“We feel the interests of justice in this case will be met if the discharge of the applicant is set aside and he is provided an opportunity to be reinstated in service, due to the fact that he had completed both his basic training and technical training and passed all the tests therein, albeit in a delayed time frame due to a medical problem attributable to military service,” the bench said, taking exception to discharging the recruit.
Further, the Army had not given him an opportunity to explain his position before discharge, which the Bench deemed was denial of natural justice.
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