Widows Entitled To Family Pension: High Court

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SRINAGAR: A woman who had ongoing divorce litigation with her late husband has been granted the right to receive family pension by the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court. The court’s bench, led by Justice Rahul Bharti, stated that “earning family pension is a law given right” and can only be denied if the law allows it, which was not applicable in this case.

In 2017, the woman submitted a writ petition after her request for the release of family pension and other benefits was denied. Her husband, who had retired from the Border Security Force (BSF) as a Constable in 2015, passed away a year later. The woman subsequently applied to the Commanding Officer of the relevant Battalion in BSF for the release of the family pension to be granted to her. However, the Commanding officer stated that since the woman’s name was not found in the deceased’s pension records and due to the ongoing divorce proceedings, the case for the release of family pension to the widow could not be pursued.

The woman’s representative contended that she was entitled to the family pension because she had not remarried. However, the respondent authorities opposed the petition, claiming that the woman was receiving monthly maintenance from maintenance proceedings against her deceased husband during his lifetime. They also emphasized that her name was not listed in the pension papers of the deceased.

The High Court noted that “there was not even a single provision of law quoted in the reply/objections by the respondents as to on what basis they were denying her claim.” The court further interpreted that the respondents were implying that it was the deceased’s wish not to grant family pension to the petitioner after his death. However, the court ruled that such a situation could not be used by the respondents to deny the woman’s claim.

The High Court determined that the stance taken by the respondent authorities lacked legal merit and was merely frivolous. As a result, the court granted the woman’s petition and ordered the respondent authorities to approve and award the family pension in her favor, along with all applicable retrospective benefits in accordance with the regulations.

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( With inputs from : kashmirlife.net )

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