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Gurkhas lose pension appeal battle

LONDON: Gurkha veterans lost the latest round of their legal battle with the Ministry of Defence over their Army pensions today (October 13).

A test case which would have affected about 25,000 veterans who retired before July 1, 1997 was dismissed at the High Court earlier this year.

The British Gurkha Welfare Society then took its case on to the Court of Appeal.

Veterans had asked three judges to rule that the Government is acting unlawfully in paying them a third of the income of veterans who retired after the cut-off date and who have parity with UK soldiers, according to The Independent website.

Their challenge was brought on human rights and discrimination laws.

The judges, sitting in London, today rejected their appeal. Afterwards the Gurkhas vowed to carry on with their fight.

The Ministry of Defence said the pension cut-off date was "justified and proportionate" and not discriminatory on the grounds of age or nationality.

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

Retired Major Tikendra Dal Dewan, chairman of the society, said after the decision: "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.

"Pursuing the legal route is the last thing we wanted, and while the court may have ruled against us today, our commitment to achieving pensions equality is as resolute as ever.

"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."

Rob Buckland MP, treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gurkha Welfare, said: "We are very disappointed that the Court of Appeal has not seen fit to uphold the rights of these brave Gurkha veterans who are only asking for a fair pension settlement, equal to that of the British soldiers they fought alongside.

"We in the All-Party Parliamentary Group will continue to work with the British Gurkha Welfare Society to highlight these inequalities and to fight for equal pensions for Gurkha veterans."

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