Gurkhas lose legal battle over UK army pensions

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - 22:13

London: Nepalese Gurkha veterans, who had
served the British Army and retired before 1997, on Wednesday lost
the latest round of their court battle with the Ministry of
Defence to claim the same pensions as their British comrades.

The Court of Appeal disagreed with the claim of
Gurkhas that the Ministry of Defence unlawfully discriminated
against them on the grounds of age and race.

They had appealed following a judgment in the High
Court in January which ruled the Ministry had not acted
unlawfully and rejected all the grounds of challenge.

In a test case which would affect 25,000 veterans, the
retired Gurkhas were seeking equal pension payments with
soldiers who retired after a July 1, 1997 cut-off date, when
the Gurkha headquarters was moved from Hong Kong to Britain.

They are paid a third of the pension that Gurkha
veterans who retired after 1997 receive.

Those who retired after 1997 receive the same amount
as their British colleagues, while serving Gurkhas earned
pension equality in 2007.

The Ministry of Defence argued the pension cut-off
date was "justified and proportionate".

But Retired Major Tikendra Dal Dewan, chairman of the
Gurkha welfare Society, said: "We are very disappointed with
the court`s judgment and will be conferring with our legal
team over the coming days to discuss taking our case to the
European Courts."

"We maintain that there is a cost benefit to the UK in
resolving this issue, let alone the moral obligation of
ensuring a respectable quality of life for these elderly
Gurkhas and their families, all of whom have given great and
devoted service to the UK`s armed forces."

Gurkhas, who are recruited from Nepal, have been part
of the British army for almost 200 years.

Last year, all retired Gurkhas won the right to live
in the UK, following a high-profile campaign championed by
actress Joanna Lumley.

The Ministry of Defence said over the course of a
retirement "these Gurkha soldiers will receive at least the
same amount of pension as their British counterparts".

About 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World War
I and World War II and more than 45,000 have died in British
uniform.

Around 3,500 now serve in the British Army, including
in Afghanistan.

Gurkhas have won 13 Victoria Crosses, the top military
award for valour and they are highly respected for their
valour.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - 22:13

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