The Punjab and Haryana high court has granted last opportunity to the Centre for verification of the Lahore jail records of a freedom fighter who had participated in the Quit India Movement, was jailed for a year in Lahore, and was running from pillar to post for revival of his abruptly stopped pension in 2003.
The bench headed by justice Rajesh Bindal, while taking up a contempt petition filed by Gurbachan Singh, 93, of Gulzarpura village in Patiala, made it clear that if the government failed in verifying the records by February 16, it would have to revive the freedom fighter's pension.
Gurbachan Singh had claimed that he had taken active part in the Quit India Movement. As before Partition he was resident of Bhalekey village of Sheikhupura district (now in Pakistan), he was convicted by the Lahore court in 1942 for participating in the Quit India Movement for one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 200. He remained in Lahore district jail from October 20, 1942 to October 19, 1943.
Earlier, a division bench of the high court had on September 29, 2012, had directed the Centre to verify records from the Lahore jail within four months to establish his genuineness if it was not satisfied with the records provided by the petitioner. However, the court was told that till date the records could not be verified.
The petitioner had submitted that he was granted the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension on July 16, 1999 after submission of relevant documents, amounting to Rs 3,000 per month along with dearness allowance. However, in June 2003, the central pension accounting office wrote a letter to the State Bank of Patiala's branch at Patiala to stop the pension.
When the petitioner approached the high court in 2010, the Centre said the petitioner's pension along with 62 other such pensioners had been stopped as a case had been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the deputy secretary, who was indiscriminately allowing pension in many cases, including the petitioner's case.
However, the petitioner stated that later, vide a letter dated September 15, 2009, the Centre had clarified to the bank that it had not issued any letter for stoppage of pension.