Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Delhi High Court directs Centre to grant pension to bed-ridden daughter of freedom fighter under Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension

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The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to grant pension under the “Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension Scheme’, to the widow daughter of a freedom fighter, who is also physically disabled and mentally-challenged.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice V. Kameswar Rao set aside the order dated February 12, 2020, wherein the Central Government refused to grant pension to the widow, stating that she is ineligible in terms of Clause 5.2.5 of the Pension Scheme.

Reliance was placed on the decisions by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, as well as the Calcutta High Court in “Khazani Devi vs Union of India and Ors,” and “Sonali Hatua Giri vs Union of India and Ors,” respectively, wherein Clause 5.2.5 of the Pension Scheme was interpreted to include within its ambit widowed or divorced daughters.

The Bench observed: “I concur with the view taken by the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well as the Calcutta High Court, more particularly when the very same clause under which the benefit is sought to be denied by the respondents to the petitioner, was considered for granting relief to widowed daughters.”

In this regard, the Bench directed that upon satisfaction of other conditions, her case for grant of dependent family pension be considered, within a period of eight weeks.

The Government of India, in 1972, framed a scheme for grant of pension to freedom fighters and their families as a token of ‘Samman’ to the freedom fighters. The benefit of the scheme, which came into effect from August 1, 1980, was also extended to father of petitioner Kolli Indira Kumari, late K. Appa Rao.

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Rao passed away in 2019, leaving behind his widowed daughter, Indira Kumari, who is bed-ridden, physically and mentally challenged, and was solely dependent upon her deceased father. She moved an application before the concerned bank, requesting for disbursal of freedom fighter pension to her.

However, on February 12, 2020, the Central Government, through a communication, rejected her request, in terms of Para 5.2.5 of the revised policy guidelines on the Pension Scheme, stating that widowed or divorced daughter is not eligible for pension.

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