Her deceased husband’s service register missing

The agony faced by a widow of a former government doctor for years together has finally come to an end as the Madras High Court Bench here directed the Health Secretary as well as Accountant General to pay the pension as well as other terminal benefits due to her husband who retired from service way back in February, 1988, and died in June, 1997.

Allowing a writ petition filed by the woman, T. Vasanthakokilam, Justice D. Hariparanthaman ordered that the Health Secretary should forward the pension proposals within six weeks to the Accountant General who, in turn, should authorise it within two weeks thereafter. He also made it clear that the petitioner was entitled to interest for belated payment of the monetary benefits.

The judge pointed out that the petitioner’s husband, C. Thangaraj, served as Medical Officer at Kadiapatti primary health centre in Pudukottai district at the time of reaching the age of superannuation on February 29, 1988. Then, he was facing disciplinary proceedings with regard to certain charges. Yet, the department allowed him to retire on condition that the enquiry would continue.

He was given only provisional pension during his lifetime as the disciplinary proceedings did not come to an end until his death on June 24, 1997. Thereafter, the Health and Family Welfare department issued a government order on March 2, 2009, stating that the departmental proceedings got abated. Yet, the petitioner was not given revised family pension and other monetary benefits.

The benefits were not settled on the ground that the service register of the petitioner’s husband was not traceable. Irked over such inaction on the part of the officials concerned, the judge pointed out that the government had taken 12 years to state that the proceedings against a dead man were being dropped. Even thereafter, his widow had been left in a lurch without payment of full family pension.

The Deputy Director of Health Services, Pudukottai, had written a letter to Kadiapatti Block Health Officer (BHO) on January 11, 2012, stating that the petitioner’s husband had worked at Rayavaram government primary health centre at the time of his retirement in 1988. Though the BHO had submitted proof for payment of provisional pension until December, 1989, there was no such proof for the subsequent years.

The provisional pension ought to have been paid only through the Kadiaptti BHO’s office until Mr. Thangaraj’s death in 1997, the Deputy Director said and asked for submission of those records in order to take steps for revision of family pension. If those documents were not available, the latter had also asked the BHO to find out the whereabouts of those records.

After recording the contents of the letter written by the Deputy Director this year, Mr. Justice Hariparanthaman said that the payment of monetary benefits could not be delayed indefinitely by citing unavailability of service records. He also held the government officials to be solely responsible for the belated payment of the terminal benefits.