The Punjab and Haryana High Court has clarified that a woman who solemnizes 'Kareva' marriage after death of her husband, is not entitled to receive widow pension as she is no longer a "destitute".
"It is apparent that the said scheme has been floated to take care of a situation where a woman is rendered destitute with no source of income consequent to the death of her husband," Justice Lisa Gill held.
The ruling was made in a petition seeking quashing of recovery notices issued to the Petitioner, Suman, calling upon her to deposit a sum of Rs. 1,82,727/- that was released to her towards widow pension under the 'Haryana Pension to Widows and Destitute Women Scheme Rules, 1988-1989', on the ground that she had solemnized marriage/ Kareva marriage with her brother-in-law.
The plea was allowed in part, inasmuch as the court stayed recovery proceedings but clarified, that the Petitioner will not receive any further amount towards the widow pension scheme.
"The petitioner is not eligible to draw pension under the Haryana Pension to Widows and Destitute Women Scheme Rules, 1988-1989 having solemnized Kareva marriage with her brother-in-law (Devar)," it was held.
The bench rejected the argument raised by the Petitioner's counsel that Kareva marriage is, in fact, not a marriage. "This argument is clearly devoid of any merit and is totally unsubstantiated," it said.
However, the bench restrained the Government from recovering the pension amount that had been released after the Petitioner's re-marriage.
The court noted that the Petitioner had written a letter to the concerned authority informing that she had re-married.
"The petitioner herself had submitted application (Annexure R1) clearly stating that she wished the pension being received by her to be stopped as she had performed Kareva marriage three years after the death of her husband," the court noted.
In these circumstances, the court said, failure of the authority to investigate if the Petitioner was wrongfully in receipt of the pension did not warrant an adverse action against the Petitioner.
"The ['Haryana Pension to Widows and Destitute Women Scheme] Rules provide for verification of the pensioners. It is provided that the Committee for Scrutiny may also investigate if any of the pensioners is no longer eligible for pension. The said exercise was clearly not undertaken. The petitioner herself has submitted the application, Annexure R1, revealing her Kareva marriage and seeking the stoppage thereof. In the given circumstances, it is held that though the petitioner is not entitled to grant of pension under the aforesaid scheme, the respondents are not entitled to recover the amount already released to her," the court held.
Case Title: Suman v. State of Haryana & Ors.
Case No.: CWP No. 28008/2017
Quorum: Justice Lisa Gill
Appearance: Advocate Vinod Bhardwaj (for Petitioner); Addl. AG Ashish Yadav (for State)
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