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SC Relief To Ex-IAF Officer Who Had Married A Foreign National Without Requisite Permission [Read Judgment]

“If an officer after his release or retirement could, therefore, validly contract the marriage with a foreign national and the spouse would therefore be entitled to all the benefits including medical or hospital facilities or club membership or canteen facilities etc., it does not stand to reason why the appellant, at least after his release from the Indian Air Force, should be disentitled in that behalf.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Indian Air Force authorities to include the names of the wife and daughter of an ex-IAF officer in his Service Certificate, who had married a foreign national without requisite permission.

Sqn. Ldr.  Navtej Singh was invalidated out of service on medical grounds in November 2009. While in service, he had applied to the Director, Directorate of IMINT, Air Headquarters (VB), New Delhi, seeking permission to marry a Canadian immigrant.

As per the policy, a serving officer would be required to obtain permission before any marriage with a foreign national could be contracted. He married the lady without waiting for the express permission or the expiry of 120 days (deemed permission). His application seeking ex-post facto permission for marriage was not considered at all. No departmental action was initiated against him in this regard.

In 2013, he made an application to include the names of his family members in the Certificate of Service and issuance of ECHS cards. As this application was rejected, he approached the Armed Forces Tribunal, which held that he was not entitled to take benefit of his marriage with the foreign national, since the marriage was contracted without any permission.

The issue considered by the apex court, in his appeal, was whether his marriage can be recognized for purposes of grant of post-retirement benefits, medical facilities and family pension etc.

Taking note of the factual scenario, the bench observed: “During the course of hearing we asked the learned counsel for the respondents as to what advantages and benefits a retired service person including his family would be entitled to. We have been given to understand that the wife may in certain cases be entitled to pension, in event of death of the officer and the family including the spouse would be entitled to benefits such as canteen facilities and membership of officers club and such other benefits. We further asked the learned counsel for the respondents that if an officer after his release or retirement wished to contract marriage with a foreign national was there any restriction or prohibition under any of the policy documents in force. The learned counsel could not lay his hands on any such policy or point out any such provision. The stand of the respondents thus is clear that the policy in question is aimed at regulating certain aspects while the officers are in service. If an officer after his release or retirement could, therefore, validly contract the marriage with a foreign national and the spouse would therefore be entitled to all the benefits including medical or hospital facilities or club membership or canteen facilities etc., it does not stand to reason why the appellant, at least after his release from the Indian Air Force, should be disentitled in that behalf.”

It then allowed the appeal directing the authorities to include the names of the wife and daughter of the appellant in the Service Certificate at least from the date of his release or retirement and also to extend them all such benefits which a spouse and children of a retired officer would be entitled to.

Read the Judgment Here

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  • Ramesh Vinayakam says:

    The SC has completely missed the point. The purpose of prior permission to marry a foreign national by an Indian citizen in the armed forces relates to national security. When this officer has married without such permission means that he has put the national security on line and therefore cannot be approved. By doing this the court encourages such activity that is inherently a threat to national security.
    The question of what benefits a wife get is of no consequences here.
    The court is pathetically wrong and short sighted.

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