A Punjab and Haryana high court bench has imposed cost on the Centre for failing to file its response on a petition filed by Gurdial Kaur, 99, resident of Sangrur, for pension. As a widow of World War II veteran Naik Harnam Singh of Burmese Army, earlier a part of British Indian Army, as per petition, she is entitled to family pension on the death of her husband in 2012.
The high court bench of justice PB Bajanthri recorded that respondents (Centre and Army) were tossing the file from one office to another contending that records were not available. On April 12, the high court had specifically directed the respondents to file a reply, but they failed to do so. “Despite the said order the statement of objection has not been filed. The respondents are liable to pay cost of Rs 10,000,” the high court said directing them to make the payment within a week and file response by August 3.
Kaur had approached the court in March 2016 saying when she approached for pension she was told to go to Myanmar (Burma) to get her husband’s records.
The record offices of Artillery, Punjab Regiment, Bihar Regiment, Parachute and Army Air Defence, on queries from army headquarters on her representation, had replied that they didn’t have record pertaining to Naik Harnam Singh. It was Artillery Records that asked her to approach Myanmar.
She told the court that her case was languishing from one table to another, from one record office to another, at the behest of the army authorities. “I didn’t get anything so far. I can’t go to one office to another at this age,” she said. The last pension her husband got was of around Rs 8,400.
After the British annexed Burma to the Indian province during their rule, a uniform system of administration through the colonial government was established. The administration system subsisted even after Burma’s separation from British India in 1937; whereby, many Indian nationals continued serving in Burma, as in the case of Harnam Singh and he even served with the Burmese Army during World War II. After getting injured in the war he was medically boarded out of their Army.