: “It’s not the free India we dreamt of. This is not the system for which we fought for freedom.”
This sums up the anguish of 97-year-old Mohan Singh, who fought an eight-year-long legal battle to get his due for having participated in the 1942 Quit India movement.
The nonagenarian freedom fighter’s pension was discontinued in 2007 on the ground that he could not get his claim of having spent at least six months in the Lahore jail attested by two co-prisoners.
It had taken the government 18 years to decide on his claim for pension, following which he was granted Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme in 2005, only to be withdrawn in December 2007.
“I am happy that I have won the legal battle, but at the same time, I am sad that I had to fight a legal battle to prove that I fought for freedom and was jailed during the Quit India movement,” said Mohan Singh, reacting to the Punjab and Haryana high court judgment that restored his pension from 2007 onwards.
After his pension was discontinued, the freedom fighter, who remained in jail from October 20, 1942, to July 24, 1943, had approached the court.
“I sold a plot to fight the legal battle. The money has no meaning to me as I am already 97 years old, but getting the pension under the specific scheme, which acknowledges my participation in the 1942 movement, means a lot to me,” said Mohan Singh, who resides at Urban Estate and is taken care of by his daughter.
Mohan Singh’s counsel GPS Bal said the high court relied on the Supreme Court judgment that opined that the grant of benefits under the scheme has to be liberal and a technical approach is not required to be taken for examining the claims of the persons, who have suffered more than six months of imprisonment.
“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. Their cases are required to be examined on the basis of probabilities and not on the touch stone of the test of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’,” stated the judgment.