Army urged to ditch 'up or out' policy in pensioning off Gurkhas

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The Independent Online

Britain should reconsider its "anachronistic" policy of pensioning off Gurkhas who fail to rise through the Army's ranks, an employment tribunal urged yesterday.

Under a controversial "up or out" policy agreed in 1947 by Britain, India and Nepal, Gurkhas must leave the Army and be replaced by new recruits if they do not win promotion.

During a four-day hearing, a Gurkha, Navinkumar Gauchan, 40, had accused the Ministry of Defence of "double standards" because the policy does not apply to British soldiers.

The Gurkha, from Colchester, Essex, told the tribunal that a bad annual report while he was a lieutenant with the Queen's Own Gurkha Transport Regiment meant he was overlooked for promotion to captain. As a result, he was pensioned out of the Army in April 2000, ending 20 years of "hard work, dedication and unselfishness" in humiliation. The MoD said Mr Gauchan, who has two children, had always known there was no guarantee about the time he would serve.

In its ruling yesterday, the tribunal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said Mr Gauchan was justified in feeling the different treatment for British and Nepalese soldiers was unfair, but, dismissing his case, said that he had wrongly attributed it to racial discrimination.

In his report, the chairman Brian Mitchell said the panel believed Mr Gauchan's real grievance was that he had to return to Nepal before completing the limit for a lieutenant of 24 years' service.

The tribunal said that "up or out", while "historically understandable" should be reviewed by the three countries.