Her husband died in a bomb blast in Saudi in 1985

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Union Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to pay compensation to a woman whose husband died in a bomb blast in Saudi Arabia in May 1985.

Justice B.P. Ray also called upon Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take steps to provide ‘help’ to the petitioner from the Chief Minister’s relief fund.

The Judge issued the directive on a petition filed by Margaret D’cruz, wife of Wilfred D’cruz of Kochi.

The court ordered that the entire exercise of awarding compensation should be completed in three weeks. The court expressed hope that the Union Ministry would take steps to award compensation, considering the fate of the petitioner who had been pursuing litigation since 1997.

The court pointed out that there had been efforts by the Ministry of External Affairs to have a settlement with the Saudi government on payment of compensation to the petitioner. Since the Centre was satisfied with the claims of the petitioner and if there was a positive view on part of the Union government, the petitioner could be compensated.

It had been brought to the notice of the court that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs had made provisions to compensate ‘deserted wives.’ In the present case, the husband of the petitioner had died in a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia. Desertion had been defined as a voluntary act of a husband in deserting his wife. The petitioner had been a victim of a bomb blast. The Ministry could modify or extend the definition of deserted wife to include ‘involuntary desertion’ as well, the court said.

The Additional Solicitor General, who appeared for the Union government, also submitted that the State received around Rs.35 crore per year as remittance from non-resident Keralites working in Gulf countries. Therefore, the court was of the considered view that it was the responsibility of the State government to compensate the litigants in such type of cases.

The petitioner sought a directive to the Centre to move an application in the International Court of Justice seeking a directive to Saudi Arabia to pay her a compensation of Rs.10 lakh. Saudi Arabia had refused to grant her any compensation on the ground that as per the laws, the Saudi government could not pay compensation unless the accused in the blast was traced and arrested. She also contended that as the Saudi government had not given any compensation, the Union government was bound to pay her compensation.

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