Government told to give special pension to army man’s widow

August 5th, 2010 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the central government to award special pension to the 85-year-old widow of an army man who was denied pension benefits by the army for the last 56 years.
Ganga Devi, widow of Naik Pratap Singh, moved the court in 2009 after the government did not pay attention to her representations.

Pulling up the government, the court in its observation, said: “It needs no elaboration that access to justice in this country is interfaced with many barriers which include, and are not restricted to, illiteracy, ignorance of law, poverty and social barriers. The petitioner unfortunately was handicapped by all the above.”

Division bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice S.L. Bhayana also said that “payment of pension is the duty of the respondents (central government) and they are expected to know the applicable law, rules and regulations and also to correctly apply the same.”

“The respondents have miserable failed to do so in the instant case. The respondents by wrongful denial of the petitioner’s claim have created the situation compelling her to seek relief and redressal from this court,” the bench observed.

Singh joined the Indian Army on Oct 13, 1940, and served till February 1954. But after being discharged from service, he was denied special pensionary benefits on the ground that he had not completed 15 years of pensionable service on the date of his discharge.

“Section 164 of the Pension Regulations for the Army 1961 clearly mentions grant of special pension to such an individual who has been discharged pursuant to the government policy of reducing the strength on establishment of the armed forces,” noted the court.

Singh moved applications before the Indian Army several times to seek pension but his letter was rejected every time. The Indian Army rejected his application in 1960 and in January 1988 and March 1988. It mentioned that Singh was discharged so as to eliminate the surpluses over the establishment.

The government rejected his representation till the time he died in July 1997. “Such stand was completely misconceived having regard to the provisions of regulations 164 and 167 of the act. The communications placed on record reflect that the late Naik Pratap Singh represented to the respondents continuously for pension before his death. The respondents took the above stand and wrongfully denied him the same,” said the bench.

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