Bringing relief to the wife of a freedom fighter, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the Centre to process the application made by the woman seeking the grant of pension under Swatantrata Sainik Samman pension scheme.
The petitioner, M. Sornam of Thanjavur district, said her husband M. Muthaiya had served in the Indian National Army under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. She said her husband was arrested and jailed in Burma (Myanmar).
He was detained in Pegu Detention Camp from May-July 1945 and transferred to Rangoon Central Prison where he was detained from August 1945 to April 1946.
His co-prisoner S. Raju, a member of the Indian National Army, had endorsed the detention of her husband, she said and added that she was getting a pension from the State government. But the Centre had rejected her application.
Her husband had applied twice to the Centre for pension in 1987. But they were rejected. In 1991, her husband died, she said. The Centre did not accept the co-prisoner certificate and said the petitioner had not given a valid Non Availability of Records Certificate (NARC).
The co-prisoner’s certificate was not accepted by the authorities on the grounds that it was certified only till December 1945 and a valid Non Availability of Records Certificate had to be provided by the State government.
Justice C.V. Karthikeyan took note of the fact that the co-prisoner had issued the certificate only till December 1945 as he had been detained only till then. It was obvious that he could not give a certificate about further incarceration of the petitioner’s husband.
With respect to NARC, the Centre could have clarified it with the State government by taking into account the plight of the widows of freedom fighters, the judge said. The court directed the Centre to process the application made by the petitioner.
“The executive arm should realise that every step towards achieving the goal of independence required sacrifice and suffering of freedom fighters, who, each, by taking their own small step, had played a part in achieving that goal. A fervent hope can only be expressed that there will be an attitudinal change in the mindset of the officialdom in recognising at least the widows of those valiant warriors. The Raj era had ended. Let Swaraj be given to these unfortunate victims who now suffer at the hands of the modern day bureaucrat,” the judge said.
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