Indian Armed Forces has proposed to include Services’ Pension Regulations for officer trainees who are medically boarded out for disabilities suffered during their military training. The move will pave the way for the trainees to secure a disability pension.
Proposal includes officer trainees who undergo training at the Indian Military Academy Dehradun, National Defence Academy Khadakwasla, the Indian Naval Academy Ezhimala, and Air Force Academy Dundigal. According to the sources, at least 8-10 trainees are medically boarded out every year.
Currently, the proposal is under the active consideration of the defence ministry, which is currently assessing the overall financial implications of the move. Further, it was proposed that the ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) should be extended to these trainees and that they should be granted the benefits under the Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF).
Expected Pension for Disabled Cadets
The sources said that pension for these trainees is likely to be based on the starting salary entitled to a lieutenant or equivalent. Further, it is proposed that even the contribution to ECHS would be made by the government based on starting salary entitled to a lieutenant or equivalent. The contribution to the AGIF will be deliberated upon after the in-principle approval is granted.
ThePrint stated that “In fact, Mr. Parrikar (former defence minister Manohar Parrikar) wanted this sorted out and had even referred it to the Committee of Experts. The unfortunate part, however, is that despite Mr Parrikar’s will, the committee’s observations and the positive approach of all stakeholders including the CDS, the defence services, higher bureaucracy and even the defence accounts department, the matter is still hanging fire because certain officers at the lower level manage to put up hyper-technical objections and send the file in a never-ending orbit,” .
Currently there isn’t any pensions, or other pay and allowances as their training is not equated with service. The issue was put before the Sixth Pay Commission to count their last year of training as service, but was rejected.
A report submitted by a Committee of Experts in 2015 had recommended that the trainees should be given proper disability pension and that they should be supported through professional courses for resettlement in civil life, among others.
However, till today, no spefic action was take on this issue. A recent order by Punjab and Haryana High Court gave fresh impetus to the matter. In August last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the government to consider granting disability benefits to defence officer trainees at par with civilian officers.
The court was hearing a petition by Jaya Madan, widow of a officer trainee who was boarded out of the Indian Military Academy for a disability suffered during training. He passed away in 2019.
The petition had stated that on a disability of 20 per cent, an civil officer trainee is paid Rs 36,465 per month, a recruit trainee (jawans) is paid Rs 18,000 per month, while an officer trainee is paid Rs 12,240 per month. Widows of officer trainees are not paid anything.