Gurkhas lose fight against MoD
January 12, 2010
The High Court has ruled against Gurkha veterans in their fight against the Ministry of Defence over pension rights. Lawyers arguing for the Gurkhas claim that rules which state that members of the regiment who took their retirement prior to July 1st 1997 are not eligible for the same pensions as those who retired after that date are a breach of human rights and a discrimination against age and nationality.
In 2007 the rules over pensions were revised to give Gurkha veterans the same rights as other members of the British armed forces. However the British Gurkha Welfare Society claims that the imposition of the 1997 deadline for those applying for the pension discriminates against around 25,000 Gurkhas who retired before that date. Because they have not been allowed to transfer their pensions they are living on about one third of the income of other soldiers. Gurkhas have been given the right to settle in the U.K. but because the pre-1997 pension rate was based on standards of living in their Nepalese homeland it means that this is difficult. The MoD has said that it estimates the cost of raising the levels of pensions would cost around £75 million. Supporters of the Gurkha’s rights say that paying the pensions would reduce the strain on the British welfare system. Anne Widdecombe has expressed her outrage at the ruling calling it an injustice that those who served under the same conditions in the same army as British soldiers should be treated any differently to British soldiers.