Almost a year after a single-judge bench held that the divorced, unemployed daughter of a freedom fighter would not be entitled to family pension after the death of her parents, a division bench has reversed the decision.
The division bench of justice Mahesh Grover and justice Shekher Dhawan has accepted the appeal against the single-judge order, observing that pension schemes were intended to honour the valour of the uniformed people who laid down their lives or suffered for the cause of the country. “We would, thus, not place any demeaning interpretation on the scheme to deprive the unsung heroes of the country of benefits meant to ensure a life of dignity to their dependents,” the bench said, adding there was no rationale in including unmarried daughters but excluding divorced daughters.
The hearing was based on an appeal by Khajani Delvi of Bhiwani in Haryana, whose father, a freedom fighter, died in 1994 and who lost her mother a year later. The only daughter of her parents, Khajani had divorced her husband in 1989 and moved in with her parents. She has no child. After the death of her parents, she, being an unemployed daughter, received dependent family pension, which was stopped on the grounds that she was divorced.
The single-judge bench dismissed her petition against this move, observing that a divorced woman could sustain herself by claiming maintenance from former husband. The high court division bench said the object of the clause in Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980, was that one member of the family be paid, hence Khajani was eligible.