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G. Krishnamoorthy & G.K. Moorthy v. The Government of Tamil Nadu - W.P.NO. 12494 OF 2000  RD-TN 292 (26 April 2002)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE P.K. MISRA
W.P.NO. 12494 OF 2000
G. Krishnamoorthy & G.K. Moorthy .. Petitioner Vs.
1. The Government of Tamil Nadu,
rep. by its Secretary,
Public (PPI) Department,
2. The District Collector,
Madurai. .. Respondents Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the issuance of Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus as stated therein. For Petitioner : M/s.N. Paul Vasanthakumar
K. Ravichandrabaabu &
For Respondents : Mrs.N.G. Kalaiselvi
Special Government Pleader
The present writ petition has originally been filed by G. Krishnamoorthy @ G.K. Moorthy for quashing the order passed by the respondent No.2 rejecting the application of the original petitioner for grant of Freedom Fighters Pension. Original Petitioner having expired during pendency of the petitioner, his widow has been substituted. However, in the judgment, the original petitioner shall be referred as petitioner for convenience. 2. A Scheme for grant of pension to the Freedom Fighters was introduced by the respondent No.1 in G.O.Ms.No.2064, Public (General) Department, dated 28.9.66 dated 28.9.1966 with effect from 1.10.1966. As per the aforesaid Scheme, the freedom fighters who were sentenced to imprisonment for not less than three months or who were killed in action or were awarded capital punishment or died due to firing or lathi charge, on account of participation in the National Movement are eligible (In the case of a deceased freedom fighter, who was otherwise eligible, obviously his widow was eligible). Subsequently the persons who were serving under I.N.A. and had participated in Naval Mutiny in 1946 and those who suffered imprisonment in Madurai Conspiracy were also made eligible. With effect from 1.4.1980, the criteria was slightly liberalised and instead of three months of imprisonment, it was prescribed that those who were undergone imprisonment of three weeks were eligible. For ascertaining the factum relating to imprisonment, certain guidelines had also been prescribed relating to manner of proof for incarceration. Gradually a more liberalised policy is being adopted by issuing Government Orders from time to time.
3. It is not disputed that in G.O.Ms.No.30, Public (P.P.II) Department, dated 7.2.1996, the first respondent introduced a modified procedure regarding verification of claim relating to imprisonment. Under this modified procedure, a District Level Screening Committee has been formed in each district headed by the Collector as the Chairman, District Revenue Officer as Vice Chairman, three prominent freedom fighters as Members and two prominent freedom fighters as Certifiers. It is not disputed that for Madurai District, such a Committee has been constituted.
4. The petitioner who claims to have suffered imprisonment from 9.1 0.1942 to 8.6.1943 while participating in Quit India Movement which started in August 1942, begun his fight, so as to say for the grant of Freedom Fighters Pension on 11.3.1982 by filing an application. Said application was rejected on the basis of some conclusions relating to genuineness of the certificate issued by the jail authorities on 3 .3.1989 and was also rejected by the Central Government. Thereafter the petitioner filed W.P.NO.10691 OF 1991 for the grant of pension with effect from 29.9.1992, the date on which the petitioner had been recommended to the Central Government by the State Government. This Court by an order dated 17.12.1993, directed the State and Central Governments to reconsider the application of the petitioner keeping in view the principles enunciated in the connected Writ Petition No.7194 of 1991 dated 16.12.1993 (subsequently reported in 1994 WLR 137).
5. While the matter stood thus, the first respondent issued G.O. Ms.No.1489/Public (PPI) Department dated 24.12.1996 establishing District Screening Committee noticed earlier in the judgment. However, the application of the petitioner having been again rejected, the petitioner filed fresh representation to different authorities. Since the representation had not been disposed of, the petitioner filed W.P.No.5301 of 1999 and this Court by an order dated 31.3.1999 directed the first respondent to dispose of the matter within a particular period. Such renewed attempt having proved futile, the present writ petition has been filed.
6. In the counter affidavit reasons have been furnished as to why the application of the petitioner had been earlier rejected keeping in view the various norms prescribed in various Government Orders.
7. Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Government having issued a revised scheme for screening the application of various freedom fighters and the District Level Committee established by the Government having recommended the case of the petitioner, the application has been arbitrarily rejected.
8. It is true that earlier application of the petitioner has been rejected as dome doubts have been raised with regard to the certificate issued by the jail authorities. However, the Government being conscious of difficulty of a genuine freedom fighter in obtaining relevant documents pertaining to the matters which were decades old, had itself prescribed liberalised method in the matter relating to assessment of certificates. In the present case, there is no dispute that certificates have bee furnished to the petitioner by the freedom fighters of eminence and moreover the case has been strongly recommended by the District Level Committee consisting of official representatives of the Government as well as the undisputed freedom fighters.
9. It has been repeatedly held by the Supreme Court as well as this Court that in the matter relating to consideration of application for grant of freedom fighters pension an overly technical view need not be taken. In the decision reported in 2002 -2- L.W. 124 (GURDIAL SINGH V. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS) the Supreme Court while dealing with a similar matter arising from Punjab High Court observed as follows :- “ The standard of proof required in such cases is not such standard which is required in a criminal case or in a case adjudicated upon rival contentions or evidence of the parties. As the object of the scheme is to honour and to mitigate the sufferings of those who had given their all for the country, a liberal and a technical approach is required tobe followed while determining the merits of the case of a person seeking pension under the scheme. It should not be forgotten that the persons intended to be covered by scheme have suffered for the country about half a century back and had not expected to be rewarded for the imprisonment suffered by them. Once the country has decided to honour such freedom fighters, the bureaucrats entrusted with the job of examining the cases of such freedom fighters are expected to keep in mind the purpose and object of the scheme. The case of the claimants under this scheme is required to be determined on the basis of the probabilities and not on the touchstone of the test of ‘ beyond reasonable doubt’. Once on the basis of the evidence it is probabilised that the claimant had suffered imprisonment for the cause of the country and during the freedom struggle, a presumption is required to be drawn in his favour unless the same is rebutted by cogent, reasonable and reliable evidence. We have noticed with disgust that the respondent Authorities have adopted a hyper-technical approach while dealing with the case of a freedom fighter and ignored the basic principles/objectives of the scheme intended to give the benefit to the sufferers in the freedom movement. The contradictions and discrepancies, as noticed herein above, cannot be held to be material which could be made the basis of depriving the appellant of his right to get the pension. The case of the appellant has been disposed of by ignoring the mandate of law and the scheme. The impugned order also appears to have been passed with a biased and close mind completely ignoring the verdict of this Court in MUKUND LALBHANDARI’s case. We further fell that after granting the pension to the appellant, the respondents were not justified to reject his claim on the basis of material which already existed, justifying the grant of pension in his favour. The appellant has, unnecessarily, been dragged to litigation for no fault of his. The High Court has completely ignored its earlier Judgments in CWP.No.3790 of 1994 entitled Mohan Singh v. Union of India decided on 1.6.1995 and CWP.144 42 of 1995 decided on 11.12.1995.”
10. Keeping in view the principles enunciated in the aforesaid decision and various facts and circumstances of the case, I think there is no justification for the State Government to refuse the grant of pension to the petitioner, particularly in view of the strong recommendation made by the District Level Committee and the Certificate issued by various freedom fighters vouchsafing the petitioner’s incarceration in 1942.
11. Learned counsel appearing for the respondents submitted that the application of the petitioner may be directed to be reconsidered by the State Government keeping in view the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court and the High Courts from time to time.
12. As already noticed, the petitioner has expired during pendency of the writ petition and the writ petition is being continued by the widow. The petitioner had entered the portals of this Court on several occasions and it would be a travesty of justice to remand the matter to the State Government for fresh decision and it would be more appropriate to give a decent burial to the case and show respect to the deceased freedom fighter by directing the State Government to pay pension to the widow of the petitioner.
13. Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Government should be directed to pay pension with effect from the date of the original application. However, it is found that in the earlier petition the petitioner himself had prayed for grant of pension with effect from January 1991.
14. In 1993 SC 2127 (MUKUNDLAL BHANDARI AND OTHERS v. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS) the Supreme Court had directed that payment of pension should be made with effect from the date of filing of the application. In 2002 -2- L.W.124 the Supreme Court however, granted the relief from the date when the earlier writ petition was filed by the petitioner in the said case and not from the date of filing of the claim application before the appropriate authorities.
15. In the present case, earlier claim of the petitioner had been rejected by applying the norms applicable at that time. Since I am inclined to direct for payment of pension by taking recourse to revised norms, it would be more appropriate to give direction regarding such pension with effect from January 1991, when the first writ petition had been filed in this court.
16. I am given to understand that quantum of pension is being increased from time to time under various Government Orders. While directing the Government to pay pension to the present applicant, the widow of the original writ petitioner with effect from January 1991, I direct that calculation should be made on the basis of the quantum applicable from time to time and subsequent increase in the quantum of pension is to be taken into account from the date of such modifications. Necessary calculations shall be made and the amount payable till the end of July 2002 may be paid by 31.7.2002 and payment for each month thereafter, that is to say, from August onwards should be made by 15th of each month. Writ Petition is accordingly allowed. There shall be no order as to costs.
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1. The Government of Tamil Nadu,
rep. by its Secretary,
Public (PPI) Department,
2. The District Collector,
P.K. MISRA, J.
Judgment in WP.NO.12494/2000
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