Tribunal awards pension to ex-Air Force men who retired in 67

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Thane, Feb 15 (PTI) More than four decades after theirretirement, a dozen-odd former Air Force personnel can nowhope to get pension, thanks to the decision of Delhi-basedPrincipal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal.

The bench of Justice A K Mathur and M L Naidu asked thegovernment last week to work out their due amounts withinthree months.

The bench mentioned that most of the petitioners are nowin their late 80s, and Defence Ministry must provide thempension as soon as possible.

Pune-based S H Nargund (75) and others joined the AirForce in 1952, and retired from active duty in 1961. Further,they continued to be in reserve'' force, till 1967.

But after the retirement, Air Force took the stand thatthey were not entitled to pension, as they had not served for15 years in the active service, as required by pension rules.

Petitioners filed a petition in the Bombay High Court in2009, which referred the issue to the Tribunal.

Before the Tribunal, the central government''s lawyerpleaded that petition had been filed too late. Even servicerecords were not available now, the government said.

However, the Tribunal did not entertain this argument.

"It is true that the petition is extremely belated but thispetition has been admitted by the Bombay High Court andtherefore, it will not be proper for us to dismiss it onaccount of laches (delay) alone....the pension is not a bountypayable as per the sweet will and pleasure of the government,"the Tribunal said. .

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