Freedom fighter’s divorced daughter having no income entitled to his pension: Calcutta HC

Her exclusion is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, says judge

The Calcutta High Court has recently pointed out that a freedom fighter’s widowed or divorced daughter is entitled to his pension and exclusion is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

In a judgment earlier this month, Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya said that as far as daughters having no independent source of income, widowed/divorced daughters stand on an equal footing with a spinster daughter as heirs of the deceased freedom fighter.

“The marital status of all of them is ‘unmarried’. Thus, the criterion of exclusion of widowed/divorced daughters, as sought to be projected by respondent no.1, is untenable in the eye of law,” the order reads

Twin condition

Under the Clause 5.2.5 of the guidelines of disbursement of Central Samman Pension “widowed/divorced daughter is not eligible for samman pensions.” The clause points out that in order to transfer the pension to the spouse or daughter, a twin condition has to be fulfilled i.e. being unmarried and having no independent source of income.

The court, in its order, pointed out that guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs as being violative of Article 14 after observing that the “blanket exclusion of widowed/ divorced daughters, including even those who do not have any personal income in lieu of maintenance or otherwise, is patently de hors Article 14, which enshrines the guarantee to all citizens of India.”

“Thus, as in the event an unmarried daughter who has no income is ineligible for the pension, widowed/divorced daughters stand on a similar footing as daughters of the deceased and shall not be eligible anyway if they have any independent source of income, which can very well be alimony or maintenance as well,” the April 7, 2021 order reads.

The matter relates to a writ petition where the petitioner, being daughter of a deceased freedom fighter was getting pension under the scheme till his demise on December 4, 2012. After the demise of the father, the petitioner’s widowed mother had applied for the grant of pension, however her representation was kept pending for a long time. The mother died in 2019, leaving the petitioner who had obtained a decree of divorce on March 19, 1999. She had been residing at her paternal home along with her son ever since.

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