Tribunal comes to the aid of missing soldier's widow

In her petition, the missing soldier's wife Koyal Devi had urged the Tribunal to ask the Army to hold a fresh Court of Inquiry (CoI) for considering the status of her husband and decide on her appeal for getting family pension and gratuity.

In its reply, the Army said the jawan was declared a deserter and as per Army rules, a CoI was held after completion of period of more than 10 years from the date of desertion, in which he was dismissed from service.

In its reply, it had added that since Koyal Devi's husband was declared a deserter, his family was not entitled to any pension.

After hearing both sides, the Bench headed by Justice A K Mathur said the jawan has not been 'heard alive' since he was missing and the Army should have normally held a court of inquiry to ascertain whether he was alive or not.

"When she has been making repeated requests, the Army should have taken a sympathetic attitude and they should have held another court of inquiry and obtained necessary information from the police station," he added.

The Tribunal said that though the Army has already sent a letter to police officials to ascertain the status of Koyal Devi’s husband, it didn't pursue the matter further.

"We regret to say that no steps have been taken for welfare of the deceased soldier's family and that does not speak high of the respondents," Justice Mathur observed.

Directing the Army to make an enquiry from the police about the soldier's present status, the Bench said if he is not alive, then the family pension should be released to Koyal Devi with effect from her first representation to the Army that was rejected in July 1992.
"She will be entitled to all the arrears with interest 12 per cent and the whole inquiry should be completed within three months," it added.

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