The Colombo District Court today issued notice on the Army Commander in a civil suit filed by a disabled soldier who complained that his retirement pension has been stopped by the army as a means of recovering an overpayment made by it to the soldier by mistake.
Additional District Judge T.D. Gunasekara issued notice on the defendants -- Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya, Salary and Documentation Director W.R. Palihakkara, Attanagalle Divisional Secretariat and the Attorney General among others as a result of the action filed by soldier Asoka Dayaratne of Ranpokunagama in Nittambuwa.
The disabled soldier claimed that he continued to accept the disabled pension after reaching the age of 55 on the mistaken understanding of a pledge given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa that disabled soldiers would be paid the disable pension until death.
Petitioner’s counsel G.D. Kulatillake said his client joined the Infantry Regiment in 1972 and served in various operations including that of the counter attack on the LTTE after it attacked Sri Maha Bodhi on May 14, 1985.
During a Wilpattu operation his client had received gun shot injuries to his chest, left leg and right hand and his right hand was later amputated. In 1987 he was considered disabled and sent on retirement and was paid a monthly disabled pension which he continued to receive till May last year even after reaching the age of 55 on January 3, 2009.
He produced a newspaper report which said that President Rajapaksa had pledged to pay a pension to disabled soldiers until their death and as such he continued to accept the pension for such soldiers.
However in May last year the plaintiff was informed by the Army that he had been paid an extra amount of Rs.539,932 by an oversight and that it had to be recovered.
Later Brigadier Palihakkara had directed the Attanagalle Divisional Secretariat to recover this amount from his retirement pension paid since reaching the age of 55. Subsequently the Divisional Secretariat had stopped paying his pension for the purpose of recovering the overpayment.
The plaintiff Dayaratne said he was married and a father of two children and asked court to issue an order to continue the payment of his pension and that he would repay the extra payment in monthly installments. (SRF)