Department of Sainik Welfare and Resettlement blissfully ignored plight and plea of widow of ex-serviceman, says Karnataka High Court

April 03, 2024 12:13 am | Updated 12:14 am IST - Bengaluru

A view of High Court of Karnataka

A view of High Court of Karnataka | Photo Credit: File photo

Observing that ‘the plight and plea of the widow of an ex-service personnel was blissfully ignored by the Department of Sainik Welfare and Resettlement’, the High Court of Karnataka has directed the department to issue widow identity card to a 52-year-old woman within two weeks along with all consequential benefits of such identity.

“Grant of an identity card for being widow of an ex-serviceman guarantees certain benefits to a widow. What the department ought to have had is lots of empathy and little of sympathy towards the petitioner, as on the death of the husband, the sole breadwinner of the family, the wife and family are driven to grave, impecuniosity and would be condemned by penury,” the court observed.

Justice M. Nagaprasanna made these observations while allowing a petition filed by the wife of the ex-serviceman.

She had questioned the rejection of her application for widow ID card. The department had rejected her application on the ground that her husband had secured ex parte divorce from her from a family court.

However, the High Court found that the decision of the department was wrong as the ex parte divorce was not in force when her husband died. The High Court has pointed out that an application filed by her to recall the ex parte order of divorce, which was passed without hearing her, was pending before the family court when her husband died. After his death, the family court had dismissed his petition for divorce holding it as abated.

“At the outset, the decree was an ex parte decree, which, except in exceptional circumstance, is no decree in the eye of law. Even that is not staring at the department as on today, as the divorce petition is dismissed, as abated,” the High Court said.

Viewed from any angle, the High Court said “the stigma of divorce cannot be permitted to be hanging on the head of the petitioner for her to be denied of any benefit, of being a spouse of ex-serviceman. No impediment can now be projected against the petitioner for grant of an identity card by the department.”

The petitioner-woman had contended that her husband’s brothers were behind the ex parte divorce and as they wanted to knock off the properties of her husband.

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