Suresh Prakash Aggarwal’s first brush with the courts was in December 1946, when he was sentenced to one-year imprisonment for waging a war against the British Rule. He was just 13 years old then.
Sixty-two years later, the 75-year-old freedom fighter once again appeared before the court on Monday. Aggarwal has approached the Supreme Court seeking his freedom fighter’s pension for which he had applied in 1956.
A Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat issued notices to the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government seeking their response to the septuagenarian’s plea.
After 22 years of strict scrutiny, Aggarwal’s request for pension was granted in 1978 through a Central Government notification. He ran out of patience and was forced to approach the Supreme Court after he lost the financial support provided by his only son.
A retired schoolteacher, Aggarwal was shunted out of his ancestral home in Pilibhit, UP in April this year. His son, a doctor, has refused to support him financially. Aggarwal is now living in an old age home in Asola village, Chattrapur.
Aggarwal’s advocate Pardeep Gupta said, “He holds a Masters degree in Physics and taught in an aided school. After his retirement in 1987, he continued to live in Pilibhit. Although he followed with both the state and central Governments, his requests failed to move the authorities.”
“Before moving the Supreme Court, Aggarwal’s case was once again pushed by senior Congress leader Motilal Vohra. As the Treasurer of the All India Congress Committee, Vohra wrote a letter to the Prime Minister that in spite of a sanction of central pension to Aggarwal, it has not been paid,” Gupta added.
The petitioner’s case for grant of freedom fighter’s pension was cleared in 1978 following a detailed scrutiny by the authorities at the State and Central level. Ironically, the inquiry at the Centre was conducted by Union Deputy Minister Satish Chandra who was Aggarwal’s co-prisoner in the Central Bareilly jail, his counsel said.
Two judges of the Allahabad High Court also pushed the petitioner’s case. Aggarwal had filed mercy petitions before them after the successive governments failed to pay him the pension as per the 1978 notification. Finally, in 1984 a committee of seven Lok Sabha members was formed to look into the reasons why the petitioner was not paid the pension.
Eighteen years after this report, the Uttar Pradesh government learnt in 2005 that Aggarwal’s file was untraceable. Though the file was reconstructed, the septuagenarian’s woes don’t seem to have ended.