D.N.I.S. News Network – After a long wait, paralysed Indian Military Academy (I.M.A.) ex-cadet Navin Gulia was recently awarded benefits and consequential relief. Over 11 years ago, he had sustained injuries during training at I.M.A. which left him completely paralysed chest downwards.
A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice S.R. Bhatt directed the Centre to pay interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum on the compensation of Rs. 1.16 lakh awarded to him earlier. The Court also imposed costs of Rs. 25,000 on the Army for forcing a disabled man into litigation.
In an earlier hearing, the High Court had ruled that Gulia be paid the stipend applicable for the duration of his stay at I.M.A. from admission till the time he was discharged. Gulia was seriously injured during an obstacle course competition at I.M.A. that led to him becoming paralyed. The incident occurred in April 1995, about a month before he was scheduled to be commissioned. He remained in hospital till July 1997, when he was released from the Army on medical grounds.
I.M.A. had put up the case to the Army Headquarters several times between 1998 and 2000, stating that he should be given a stipend for two years as per Army policy. I.M.A. authorities had also stated that Army Headquarters was delaying the release of the money unnecessarily. Though the Army Headquarters agreed to pay the stipend, they did not act upon it for the next six years.
Gulia had filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court in 2003 and initially, the Army had taken the stand that the policy was silent on such cases. When the petitioner brought on record letters by the Army Headquarters, showing payment in similar cases, the Army changed its stand to say that the rules were ambiguous.
The Army also contended that the Army Headquarters had no objection, but the Controller of Defence Accounts was turning down the claim in the absence of sanction from the Ministry of Defence. But the Court summoned the Controller of Defence Accounts to explain on what basis they had meted out this treatment to a disabled person.