Ninety-year-old seeks pension of freedom fighter husband dead for 56yrs
(Sourced from PTI)
Withholding the pension of a freedom fighter was not justified, the Bombay High Court has said and directed the Maharashtra government to respond to a plea filed by the 90-year-old wife of a freedom fighter, who died 56 years ago, seeking benefits of a government pension scheme. A division bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav Jamdar issued the order on September 24.
A copy of the order was made available on Monday. The court was hearing a petition filed by Shalini Chavan, a resident of Raigad district, seeking benefits of the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 to be accorded to her as her late husband was a freedom fighter. As per the plea, the woman's husband, Laxman Chavan, was a freedom fighter.
The woman's husband had also participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942. He was later sentenced following which he was imprisoned at the Byculla jail in Mumbai from April 17, 1944 to October 11, 1944. He died on March 12, 1965.
The petitioner's lawyer, Jitendra Pathade, told the court that the pension scheme's benefit was not extended to Shalini Chavan on the ground that records of her husband's arrest and imprisonment were not available. Pathade had also argued that the petitioner had in 1966 submitted the imprisonment certificate of her late husband to the state government but it could not verify the same.
The state government couldn't verify the certificate as old records of Byculla prison seem to have been destroyed or must have perished over the years, Pathade said. The court noted that from materials available on record, there does not appear to be any dispute as to the status of Laxman Chavan being a freedom fighter and as regards to the petitioner being his widow.
If that be so, then withholding of a freedom fighter's pension, that too for such a long period, is not justified, the HC said. The bench directed government pleader Purnima Kantharia to obtain instructions from the state government and apprise the court on September 30.
In her plea, Shalini Chavan said she is a senior citizen without any support following her son's death and is struggling for her daily needs. To date, the petitioner has not received any pension, the petition said, which is why the late freedom fighter's wife also sought a direction to the state government to pay her an ex-gratia sum of Rs. 10 lakh.