Supreme Court seeks government response for denying freedom fighter’s pension to divorced daughter

Plea by mother on benefit continuation after HC, Centre decide against it

June 01, 2020 03:52 am | Updated 03:52 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court has asked the government its reasons for refusing the request made by a freedom fighter’s ailing widow to the Prime Minister to allow her divorced daughter access to her father’s Swatantra Sainik pension.

Nearly two years ago, Kaushalya wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying her daughter is divorced and dependent on her. They both lived on the pension of her husband, Gopal Ram.

In her letter to the Prime Minister in January 2018, she appealed that after her death, the pension may continue to be paid to her daughter as the latter had no other means of financial support. But the government had declined the request in September 2018.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court agreed with the government’s decision in 2019. It concluded that there was no provision in the rules for the grant of the Swatantrata Sainik Samman pension to a divorced daughter.

In her appeal before the Supreme Court, the daughter, Tulsi Devi, represented by advocate Dushyant Parashar, pointed out that family pension is allowed to unmarried daughter but not to a divorced one with no other financial means.

A case in favour cited

Mr. Parashar drew the apex court’s attention to the Punjab & Haryana High Court decision in the Khajani Devi case of 2016, which allowed a divorced daughter access her freedom fighter father’s pension.

“The Punjab and Haryana High Court had placed reliance on the instructions issued by the Ministry of Defence on December 14, 2012, which includes a divorced daughter in the category of eligible dependents for grant of liberalised/special family pension beyond 25 years,” Mr. Parashar argued.

The lawyer referred to how Punjab & Haryana Court decision was upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The apex court had found the Punjab & Haryana High Court decision to grant the pension to the divorced daughter “progressive and socially constructive”.

The Supreme Court had fully agreed with “the approach to give benefits to a daughter who was divorced, treating her at parity with the unmarried daughter

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