Chandigarh: Freedom fighter’s 80-yr-old widow wins battle for pension

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Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
March 24, 2021 6:40:11 am

As per Kaur, the name of her husband was at serial number 57 in the list of 64 recommended persons.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed an appeal by Union Home Ministry and Haryana that challenged a single bench order granting pension benefits to the octogenarian wife of a freedom fighter under the “Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980”.

The division bench of Justice Ajay Tewari and Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj, was hearing the appeal against granting pension benefits to Chand Kaur, 80.

The husband of Chand Kaur, late Sultan Singh was enrolled as a Gunner in the Reg/Corps in the Army on April 5, 1941. While he was in service his regiment joined the Indian National Army (INA) after the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942 and they were ordered by the then GOC-in-Chief, INA and deployed at Brendon in Sumatra. They were required to man the Anti Aircraft Guns to defend the oil refinery at Brendon.

As per the discharge certificate appended along by Chand Kaur, enrolment of her late husband Sultan Singh reflects as March 5, 1941 and date of discharge as June 23, 1946. Kaur contended through her counsel Advocate Ram Avtar Sheoran that Union government had constituted a committee to review the cases of INA and on the basis of the recommendations of this Committee dated April 25, 1988, the names of 64 Anti Aircraft Artillery Gunners were recommended for the grant of Freedom Fighters’ Pension, and this list was approved by the government in December, 1990.

As per Kaur, the name of her husband was at serial number 57 in the list of 64 recommended persons.

Haryana, however, submitted that the claim of Kaur was declined on the parameters of provisions of para 1.5 of the relevant guidelines saying that on the strength of the same Kaur does not fulfill the eligibility conditions as per the mandate of the scheme and thus her claim was declined in 2017.

The division bench after hearing the arguments held that, “A bare perusal of the Certificate of Service clearly shows the date of joining of the late husband of the respondent no.1 (Chand Kaur) as February 15, 1942 and the date of discharge as June 23, 1946. As per findings of the Review Committee of the Government of India dated January 19, 1988 the case of late husband of respondent no.1 and the similarly situated persons were revisited and in pursuance to the same, 64 persons of the Anti Aircraft Artillery Gunners, who joined INA were considered and recommended. The husband of the respondent no.1/petitioner found his place at serial number 57 in the same. Though, Government of India approved this list on December 10, 1990 but unfortunately husband of respondent number -1/petitioner expired on December 24, 1990 and hence he could not pursue his well deserved claim.”

It added: “The facts and circumstances of the case clearly reveal that respondent no.1 is an old aged widow and could not have been expected to pursue the claim. Thus, the ground of delay alleged by the respondents is totally meaningless.”

Thus finding no justification in the stand taken by the appellants in declining the benefit of Scheme to Chand Kaur, the HC dismissed the appeal.

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