Expressing its displeasure with the government authorities in forcing citizens unnecessarily into avoidable litigation even for seeking benefits of the schemes which the government professes through its policies, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said that it defeats the very purpose of public welfare schemes.
The Haryana government had failed to honour its commitment under the Rajiv Gandhi Parivar Bima Yojana scheme of providing Rs. 1 lakh as the insured amount to the widow of a deceased in a motor accident who was in a lower income bracket.
“A noble objective which is notified was allowed by the state to be trashed as empty words that could offer no consolation to the family,” said justice K Kannan. The court dismissed the petition filed by the Haryana government, after finding it ‘wholly vexatious’, challenging the award passed by the permanent lok adalat in favour of the widow.
The court also imposed ‘exemplary cost’ of Rs. 25,000 on the state government payable to the widow along with Rs. 1 lakh compensation under the scheme.
The court observed that the policy itself was a measure of the public welfare scheme floated by the state to help the family of a deceased citizen from distress and deprivation due to sudden death.
Taking serious note of the state government forcing the widow into preventable litigation, Justice Kannan said, “More shocking was the action of the state to come before this court through a writ petition to the award passed by the permanent lok adalat…If there was any seriousness on the part of the state to what it professes through a notification, then they ought not to have a contest at all.
It ought to have taken note of a situation that even a MACT (motor accident claims tribunal) has disposed of the case while the state was still dragging its feet.” The judge added, “It is not understandable as to how such a decision could be taken that would completely subvert the notification and the scheme which it proposes to put in operation.”
Though the MACT had directed the state to pay the compensation as the cause of death was because of motor accident, the contention taken in defence by the state was that the cause of death was not clear and hence they could not be compelled to make the payment.