Madras HC Raps State For Denying Pension To Freedom Fighter On “Baseless Reasoning” [Read Order]
The Madras High Court recently rapped the State for denying pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension (SSS Scheme) to a freedom fighter on technical grounds.
Noting that the reasons cited by the State were “baseless”, Justice MS Ramesh observed, “The object of understanding the freedom fighters pension is to recognize the involvement of Freedom Fighters, who had struggled for our Country and were also imprisoned for such struggle. When the scheme is floated with a noble object, it is rather unfortunate that the respondent herein had been taking such baseless reasoning for rejecting the petitioner's request.”
The Court was hearing a petition filed by one Mr. K. Balakrishnan, who had challenged the denial of pension to him under the scheme. He had submitted that he had actively participated in the freedom movement, during which he was imprisoned at the Vellore Jail for eight months between 1942 and 1943. He had hence claimed the freedom fighters’ pension under the SSS scheme.
In order to be eligible under the Scheme, he had also submitted two certificates from his co-prisoners. His application was, however, rejected, noting that the co-prisoners whose certificates he had produced had been jailed at Allipuram Central Jail and Bellari District and Tanjore Jail, while the petitioner was imprisoned at Vellore Jail.
Rejecting the State’s averments, the Court noted that it wasn’t disputed that the petitioner had in fact been imprisoned at Vellore prison, as he had been granted the State Government Freedom Fighters Pension in the year 2004 on the basis of the submission.
“While dealing with freedom fighters pension scheme, two aspects that need to be borne in mind by the respondents are that the claimants would definitely be more than 70 years of age and that the main criteria to sanction a loan would be as to whether the claimant had participated in the freedom struggle or not. When the impugned order does not deny that the petitioner herein was imprisoned at Vellore Jail, it automatically follows that they have accepted the fact of his participation in the freedom struggle,” it explained.
It then asserted that the co-prisoners certificate is only a document to affirm and ratify that the claimant had participated in the freedom struggle. It further opined that the term “co-prisoners certificate” should be considered in its strict meaning, and that the condition should be satisfied if such freedom fighter had knowledge of the claimant being involved in the struggle and being imprisoned.
The Court, therefore, quashed the impugned order, directing the authorities to grant the pension to the petitioner under the SSS scheme from the date of application, and continue to pay the same till his lifetime. The entire exercise of payment of arrears was directed to be completed within two weeks. The authorities were also directed to pay an interest on the outstanding arrears of pension at the rate of 7.5% per annum.Read the Order Here