Nepalese Gurkha soldiers lose British pension fight

13th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Nepalese Gurkha veterans on Wednesday lost the latest round of their legal battle in London with the Ministry of Defence over their British army pensions.

A test case, which would affect some 25,000 veterans, is 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 the 1997 date receive, which is on a par with their British colleagues.

The case was dismissed at the High Court earlier this year, but the British Gurkha Welfare Society then took it to the Court of Appeal.

However, the appeal was rejected Wednesday.

The Gurkhas, recruited from Nepal, are a long-standing part of the British army, with a reputation for ferocity and bravery.

Retired Major Tikendra Dal Dewan, chairman of the British Gurkha Welfare Society, expressed his disappointment after the appeal rejection and said he would consider taking the case to the European courts.

"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," he said.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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