The Punjab and Haryana high court has imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 on the Punjab government while directing it to give subsistence allowance arrears with 9% interest to an Amritsar woman, whose husband died in 1990 of injuries received in a 1988 terror attack.
The high court bench of justice RS Malik observed that the woman was made to approach the court twice despite there being clear evidence that her husband had died in a terror attack during militancy in Punjab. “It becomes crystal clear (upon perusal of evidence) that the authorities of the respondent state have treated the petitioner, widow of the victim of a terrorist attack, in most arbitrary manner,” justice Malik said.
The high court was hearing the petition of Surjeet Kaur, who had approached the government initially in 2007, after obtaining a court order, for providing her benefits under schemes for terror-affected families. Her claim was rejected stating that her husband, Santokh Singh, died due to natural causes. She again approached the high court in 2014.
Santokh Singh had fought terrorists and was inflicted with a bullet injury in Lopoke area in Amritsar in March 1988. For his bravery, he was awarded Rs 10,000 by the then Amritsar deputy commissioner. But he died in 1990.
In 2007’s representation to the government, Surjeet Kaur had stated that her husband succumbed to injuries caused by terrorists. She said the then superintendent of police (SP) had recommended financial help for the family in 1988.
The high court observed that in rejecting her claim, the Amritsar DC in 2007 proceeded on a “wholly misconceived and perverse approach” and did not take note of recommendations made by the local police chief.
“The petitioner was entitled for much better treatment at the hands of the respondent authorities, who were expected to deal with the case of the petitioner gracefully and sympathetically,” the HC bench said, adding that it was a matter of record that her husband was a “true patriot” who was helping the state agencies to fight terrorism and that was why he was given a bravery award in 1988. He was made the target by the terrorists because he developed an enmity with the terrorists while acting against them with a view to help the state agencies, the HC bench said.