22 Sep 2023 10:22 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently held that the benefit of the Kerala Freedom Fighter’s Continuous Pension (KFFCP) cannot be denied to the divorced daughter of a deceased freedom fighter solely on the ground that her brothers were earning and financially settled.Justice Devan Ramachandran remarked that the reason cited for the rejection of pension, that that the petitioner would be taken care...
The Kerala High Court recently held that the benefit of the Kerala Freedom Fighter’s Continuous Pension (KFFCP) cannot be denied to the divorced daughter of a deceased freedom fighter solely on the ground that her brothers were earning and financially settled.
Justice Devan Ramachandran remarked that the reason cited for the rejection of pension, that that the petitioner would be taken care of by her brothers, was based on outdated patriarchal notions:
“I am afraid that the submissions of the learned Government Pleader smack archaic patriarchal notions. Merely because the petitioner has two brothers, an automatic assumption drawn that she would be taken care of by them for her life, can only be seen to be one solely on account of the afore notions and nothing else.”
The petitioner's father was eligible for pension under the Kerala Freedom Fighters Pension Rules till his demise. The said pension was later received by her mother and after her demise, the petitioner, being a divorcee, was entitled to the pension as her father’s legal dependent. However, her application was rejected by the authority.
The petitioner approached the High Court aggrieved by the rejection of KFFCP seeking to set aside the said order and for the competent Authority of the State to reconsider her claim based on the statutory scheme.
The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that it was unjustifiable for the respondents to deny pension by stating that petitioner was being looked after by her brothers, particularly when they have their own families to take care of. The petitioner relied upon Rule 11A of the Kerala Freedom Fighters Pension Rules to state that divorced daughters of deceased freedom fighters were also entitled to receive the pension.
On the other hand, the Government Pleader submitted that it was justified for the Government to reject her pension as her brothers were financially well-off and were earning enough to take care of their sister and thus she did not fall within the 'most deserving cases' as required under Rule 11A.
The Court found the respondent's argument to be rooted in patriarchal notions and held that pension could not be denied to the petitioner solely because her brothers were financially settled.
Justice Ramachandran further noted that the petitioner cannot be denied pension under Rule 11A merely because she has two brothers, since other aspects should also be considered.
"The ambit of Rule 11A of the ‘Rules’ is unmistakable because, only in the “most deserving cases” can the benefit sought for by the petitioner be granted. This is a pure question of fact, which will have to be assessed on the edifice of all the relevant aspects, without relying upon conjectures and surmises, solely on the basis that the petitioner has two brothers."
The Court held that the respondents should not have denied pension to the petitioner on the ground that her brothers were unmarried now, since they could get married in the future and this would lead her without any succour in life.
It added that even if the brothers remain unmarried, the respondents cannot expect the petitioner to be financially dependent upon her brothers for her whole life.
“In any event, even assuming that the brothers remain unmarried, it would be of no consequence because the hypothesis now drawn by the Government, that she would be taken care of forever by them solely because she is their sister and therefore, expected to be depended upon them, can certainly not be countenanced by this Court in this age and era.”
Accordingly, the Court directed the respondents to re-consider the petitioner's pension claim.
Counsel for the Petitioner: Advocate Manas P. Hameed
Counsel for the respondents: Government Pleader Appu P.S
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 504
Case title: Neena T V State of Kerala
Case number: WP(C) NO. 40155 Of 2022
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