As an Armyman, he won a medal for bravery in the Indo-Pak war of 1965. But it took him 43 years to win his right to be paid a pension after he was discharged from service in 1970.
Ruling that the Army had illegally discharged former sapper Chengaiah, the Armed Forces Tribunal directed that it pay him his pension dues from three years prior to the date he applied to the tribunal in 2010.
Chengaiah's counsel submitted that his client was promised a total of 15 years service when he joined the Army's Madras Engineer Group (MEG) in July 1963. This included seven years of 'colour' or full-time service and eight years of reserve service. He took part in the Sialkot Campaign in the 1965 war against Pakistan.
The Army then posted Chengaiah in Assam, whereupon it assessed his character as 'exemplary' and decorated him with two medals, the Samar Seva (for combat in the Indo-Pak war) and the Assam Medal.
However, in 1970 the Army informed Chengaiah that there was no vacancy in the reserve services and discharged him. The discharge was arbitrary because his batchmates and juniors were inducted in reserve service, the counsel said. Chengaiah was not paid pension and had to support three daughters. The counsel asked the tribunal to condone the delayed petition because Chengaiah wasn't aware of the AFT establishment in Chennai.
The army countered by arguing that the only documentary evidence that remained of his service were entries in MEG's record office. The Army said an ex-serviceman is entitled to pension only after a minimum of 15 years continuous service. Chengaiah had been in service for only seven years, it said.
A bench consisting of judicial member V Periya Karuppiah and administrative member Anand Mohan Varma said it was evident from the MEG records that the Army had engaged him for 15 years. Chengaiah was willing to continue in service so his discharge by the Army was illegal, it said. He may be deemed to have completed 15 years of service and would, therefore, be eligible to pension.
Courtesy: Times of India