Decided on May 31,2007

CHANDRO Appellant
UOI Respondents


T.S.THAKUR, J. - (1.) Fight against terrorism, insurgency and militancy in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-eastern region of the country takes a heavy toll of the armed forces deployed in these regions. The Central Government have framed beneficial schemes for compensating the next of kin of those killed in action against the anti-national/insurgents/extremists. The ex gratia amount paid by the Ministry of Defence under these schemes was initally limited to Rs.1,00,000/- which was subsequently raised to Rs.2,00,000/- in the case of those killed on or after 01.05.1995. The same was further raised to Rs.5,00,000/- in cases where death had occurred due to accidents in the course of performance of duties or acts of violence of terrorists and anti national elements. In case where death had occurred due to enemy action in international war or border skirmishes and action against militants/terrorists/extremists, the amount of ex gratia compensation was fixed at Rs.7.50 lakhs in terms of a policy circular dated 22.09.1998 issued by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
(2.) Late Naik Hoshiar Singh was killed in an accident that occurred in the course of an action against the militants. The petitioner, who is his widow, has in the present petition prayed for a mandamus directing the respondents to release an ex gratia compensation of Rs.7.50 lakhs in terms of the policy formulated by the Government of India together with interest @ 18% per annum from the date of the demise of her husband till actual payment of the amount to her. The petitioner's case is that deceased Naik Hoshiar Singh was a member of a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) deputed to liquidate militants in the Kashmir valley, about whose presence the authorities had specific information. While on the way to the place where the militants were hiding, the vehicle carrying the members of the team was blasted with the help of an Improvised Explosive Devise planted by the militants resulting in the death of her husband on the spot. The ex gratia payment of Rs.7.50 lakhs due to the petitioner as the widow of the deceased under the policy formulated by the Government had not however been released in her favour nor had the other payments due to her, under various other schemes formulated for the welfare of the war widows, been released. A mandamus directing the respondents to release the said payments with interest has, therefore, been prayed for.
(3.) The respondents have filed a counter affidavit to the petition in which it is inter alia pointed out that Late Naik Hoshiar Singh was no doubt a part of the QRT sent to launch an operation against the militants regarding whose presence the authorities had received reliable information but the assertion that he had died on account of an IED blast triggered by the militants was not factually correct. According to the respondents when the QRT traveling in an army vehicle reached near Tengpura crossing, the vehicle skidded off the road and started sliding back towards a pit on the left of the road. At this stage, the soldiers sitting in the rear part of the vehicle including Naik Hoshiar Singh panicked and jumped out of the vehicle which was going down towards the embankment. In the process Naik Hoshiar Singh was run over by the vehicle which was uncontrollably sliding backwards. A Court of inquiry to investigate the circumstances leading to the accident was held which recorded a finding that the death had occurred on account of an accident and not because of any IED blast triggered by the militants. The counter affidavit goes on to state that the respondents have already paid a total sum of Rs.11,41,188/- which includes a sum of Rs.5,00,000/- on account of ex gratia compensation. It is further submitted that the respondents have sanctioned a liberalised special pension of Rs.3860/- per month excluding dearness relief in favour of the petitioner and that no further amount is due or payable to her towards any statutory or non-statutory service benefit or towards ex gratia compensation.;

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