The Delhi High Court on Thursday disposed of the plea filed by ‘Hamara Desh Hamare Jawan Trust,’ seeking directions to the Centre to remove the disparity in pensionary benefit and extend the same benefit (old Pension Scheme) to the personnel of armed forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D. N. Patel and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw heard the matter through video-conferencing. Justice Endlaw, on his lordship’s retirement today, was sitting with Chief Justice DN Patel, as part of the tradition.
Justice Endlaw said a batch of petitions on a similar issue is already under consideration by the court, and that the decision in those matters will be ‘in-rem’.
Advocate Ajay Kumar Agrawal, representing the petitioner Trust, sought permission to withdraw the plea with a view to avail another remedy or file an application in pending matters on similar issue. Accordingly, the petition was disposed of as withdrawn.
The plea was filed by a Trust working for the cause of Armed Forces personnel and their families. It alleged that Armed Forces of the Union under the Ministry of Home Affairs are at par with the Armed Forces under the Ministry of Defence.
The Armed Forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs include the Border Security Force, the Central Industry Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Force, National Security Guard, Assam Rifles and the Shashastra Seva Bal.
A new pension scheme was announced by the Government in 2003, in respect of new entrants to the Central Government service, which came into effect from January 1, 2004, and the same excluded from its purview the Armed Forces.
The old pension scheme was denied to the Armed Forces under the Ministry of Home of Affairs, while the same was allowed to be applicable upon the Armed Forces under the Ministry of Defence, on the ground that the Forces under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs are not Armed Forces of the Union.
A clarification letter issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on August 6, 2004, declared “the Central Forces under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs as the Armed of the Union,” the plea claimed.
It said, “The duties of the Armed Forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs are no less than the Armed Forces under the Ministry of Defence.” Any form of discrimination between the Armed Forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs and those under the Ministry of Defence, is a violation of principle of equality, added the petition.
In light of the above, the plea prayed for extension of the same benefit to the personnel of Armed Forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs, as is given to Armed Forces personnel under the Ministry of Defence. A petition was moved by the petitioner Trust before the Supreme Court, wherein the top court of the country, vide order dated February 8, 2021, directed the petitioner Trust to approach the Delhi High Court.