In case of conflict between the two organs of the State and the Statutory Rules and Regulations, the latter would prevail: Supreme Court of India

The communication of the Union of India dated 31st March 2008, vide which the President of India has granted sanction, itself reveals that the sanction is for raising two additional companies for 130 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) Ecological and the Medical Board and COI have found that the injury sustained by the appellant was attributable to the Military Service and it was not due to his own negligence. In case of conflict between what is stated in internal communication between the two organs of the State and the Statutory Rules and Regulations, it is needless to state that the Statutory Rules and Regulations would prevail. In that view of the matter, the AFT was not justified in rejecting the claim of the appellant. Such an observation was made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court before Hon’ble Justice L. NAGESWARA RAO & Hon’ble Justice B.R. GAVAI in the matter of PANI RAM vs UNION OF INDIA AND ORS. [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2275 OF 2019].

The facts of the case were that after serving for about 25 years in Infantry of the Regular Army, the appellant got re-enrolled in the Territorial Army as a full-time soldier while serving in Territorial Army, on 5th April 2009, the appellant was granted 10 days’ part of annual leave from 15th April 2009 to 24th April 2009, to proceed to his home, which was at a distance of a few kilometers from the Unit. After availing of the said leave, when the appellant was coming back on his scooter to rejoin his duty, on 24th April 2009, he met with a serious accident. Consequently, his right leg was amputated. Thereafter, he was shifted to the Artificial Limb Centre at Pune. On 21st October 2009, the Medical Board was held at ALC which assessed the appellant’s disability to be 80%. Thereafter, a Court of Inquiry was held from 13th November 2009 onwards to investigate the circumstances under which the appellant had sustained injury. The CoI found that the injury sustained by the appellant was attributable to military service and it was not due to his own negligence. The appellate, therefore, approached the AFT For the grant of disability pension as is applicable to the personnel of the Regular Army, but the same was denied. Therefore, the present appeal is preferred by the appellate.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that an individual who is Invalided out of service on account of disability, which is Attributable or aggravated by Military Service in non­battle Casualty and is assessed 20% or more, would be entitled to Disability Pension. The respondents are not in a position to point out any rules or regulations, which can be said to be inconsistent with Regulation No. 292 or 173, neither has any other regulation been pointed out,   which deals with the Terms and conditions of service of ETF.

Additionally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that a Right to Equality guaranteed Under Article 14 of the Constitution of India would also apply To a man who has no choice or rather no meaningful choice, but to give his assent to a contract or to sign on the Dotted Line in a prescribed or standard form or to accept a set of rules as part of the contract, however unfair, unreasonable and unconscionable a clause in that contract or form or rules may be.

Finally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court allowed the present appeal. However, there was no order as to cost.

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Judgment Reviewed by: Rohan Kumar Thakur

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