Case of Eligibility for Disability Pension: Air Force Officer’s Retirement

The Supreme Court of India recently delivered a significant judgment on the eligibility for disability pension in the case of an Air Force officer’s retirement. The case delves into the criteria for determining disability percentage and the entitlement to disability pension, focusing on the application of regulations and circulars outlined by the Ministry of Defence. This ruling provides clarity on the intricate provisions regarding disability benefits for armed forces personnel.


  • The main issue in this appeal is whether disability pension is payable to an Air Force Officer who superannuated from service naturally and has a disability less than 20%.
  • The question revolves around the eligibility for disability pension in such a scenario.
  • It questions the applicability of disability pension in cases where the disability does not meet the usual threshold of 20%.

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  • An officer retiring from air force service due to a disability attributable to or aggravated by service can receive disability pension
  • The disability must be assessed at 20% or above to be eligible for disability pension
  • Determining if a disability is attributable to or aggravated by air force service is outlined in Appendix II of the regulations
  • Circular dated 31.1.2001 issued by Ministry of Defence is referred to by both counsels.
  • Para 7.2 and 8.2 of the Circular are crucial for computing disability element for Armed Forces personnel.
  • Disability must be more than 20% for disability pension entitlement.
  • Disability percentage determines the computation of disability element.
  • Rounding off rules apply – disability below 50% rounded off to 50% and between 50-75% rounded off to 75%.
  • Disability must be attributable or aggravated by service in the Air Force for eligibility of disability pension.
  • Regulation 37(a) and Para 8.2 clearly state that disability element is not payable for disabilities less than 20%.
  • The Order dated 10.12.2014 of the Court in ‘Union of India and Ors. versus Ram Avtar’ was relied upon.
  • A subsequent letter dated 18.4.2016 from the Ministry of Defence to the Chief of all the Armed Forces was also considered.
  • The Court in ‘Ram Avtar’ approved the judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal and highlighted the application of the principle of rounding off to those who superannuated under Para 8.2.
  • In this case, the original petitioner/applicant before the AFT is not entitled to disability pension.
  • The AFT applied rounding off principles without first determining the petitioner’s entitlement to disability pension.
  • Due to the lack of entitlement to disability pension, there is no question of applying the provisions of Para 7.2 in the petitioner’s case.

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  • The appeal has been allowed
  • The order of the AFT has been set aside
  • The original application filed by the Respondent before the AFT will stand dismissed

Also Read: State of U.P. v. Ramji Singh and Ors.: Upholding Justice and Truth


Case Number: C.A. No.-010870 / 2018

Click here to read/download original judgement

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