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Saturday, April 8, 2017

SC comes to the rescue of an HIV+ veteran- grants him Disability Pension

In what may be quite a progressive decision by the Supreme Court, a soldier suffering from AIDS and Meningitis has been granted disability pension by the Supreme Court, which was earlier refused by the Army and then also the Armed Forces Tribunal.

HIV+ population continues to suffer stigma in our nation and the military population declared HIV+ faces another major issue, and that is the fact that such soldiers can be discharged from service on medical grounds- at times without pension in case the condition is declared “neither attributable to, nor aggravated by military service”.

Though a harmonious interpretation of the rules would show that the condition needs to be declared attributable to service if the cause is unknown and can only be declared “not related to service” in case the reason is directly discernable such as contact with a commercial sex worker, more often than not, medical boards declare it ‘not related to service’ even if the reason remains unknown. Of course, it is well understood that there are plenty of ways how the virus can spread, and the individual may not even be at fault for his condition, but the stigma till date in our nation is such that personnel affected by the virus are left to fend for their own.

This decision is not just in line with the global effort to make AIDS less stigmatic but also protects the life and liberty of the individual by providing him and his family a means of a dignified life through disability pension and also ensuring medical treatment via the military medical establishment which is only permissible to pensioners as far as in-patient treatment is concerned.

5 comments:

RAMESH BALAKRISHNAN said...

Once again Hon SC comes to our rescue. Hope MOD does not file a review petition.

Anonymous said...

It is really a very good decision. Grateful to the highest court of land for this decision. (I am not HIV infected but I participate in their management as Healthcare worker)

sanjay gupta said...

very good decision by supreme court and thanks for bringing it to light of every one.

Harminder Singh said...

Dear Navdeep, it is surprising to read such a post from you. Is the interest of the individual over and above the interest of the state??? I am not able to understand the fact that Just because the individual happens to be in service and contracts HIV through unknown reasons which can in no way be connected to service, how does the state become responsible for him and his family? The methods of transmission of HIV are limited and well researched and attributability/aggravation due to service is generally clearly evident and beyond doubt in genuine cases.This group of individuals deserve whole hearted help and support of the the state but is it justified to extend this help in the form of Disability pension to an individual whose condition is “not related to service”?? Does this not defeat the entire concept of attribtability and aggravation??? If this is the case, then should we not simply do away with this concept and award disability to every armed forces personnel being discharged from military service on medical grounds?

A Sunder Rajan said...

I would say that this soldier and soldiers like him contact HIV, AIDS and STDs are as a direct result of not being able to have a normal family and sexual life, due the exigencies of service in the army. In the Indian army over 90% of the soldiers are not allowed to keep their families with them, as family accommodation to other ranks are hardly 10% of the soldiers strength. Primarily this is the GOI's inability to provide the requisite married accommodation to its troops, which leads to such sexual encounters of the soldiers to sexual partners and women of easy virtues, who are not their wives ...leading to HIV, AIDS and STDs ...

Regards,
Col A Sunder Rajan