Karnataka High Court Reverses Single-Judge Order, Denies Freedom Fighters’ Pension to 89-Year-Old Widow


LI Network

Published on: 27 July 2023 at 12:37 IST

The Karnataka High Court recently overturned a single-judge order that directed the State authorities to grant freedom fighters’ pension, along with arrears, to an 89-year-old widow, identified as Savantrewwa, in the case of State of Karnataka & Ors v Savantrewwa.

A division bench comprising Justices R Devdas and Rajesh Rai K allowed an appeal filed by the State authorities, citing the applicability of a 2014 circular issued by the Central government concerning the Central Government Sanman Pension Scheme.

The circular stated that post the death of a freedom fighter, no pension in their name should be sanctioned, even if their application was under examination at the time of death. The State government had also issued corresponding orders based on this circular.

The High Court opined that the State government appropriately rejected the widow’s claim for freedom fighters’ pension, considering the 2014 circular.

The widow’s husband had been granted freedom fighters’ pension in 1992. However, the government decided to re-verify all such cases, leading to the cancellation of the pension sanctioned to the widow’s husband in 1995. He passed away in 2003.

In 2014, after a gap of 12 years, the widow submitted a representation requesting the grant of freedom fighters’ pension along with pending arrears. She included copies of co-prisoners’ certificates as supporting documents.

However, her request was not accepted, prompting her to approach the High Court for relief. Following four rounds of litigation, a single-judge of the High Court issued an order in 2021 in favor of the widow, directing the authorities to grant her the pension.

Challenging the 2021 order, the State authorities appealed before the High Court division bench.

After careful consideration of the arguments presented, the division bench found the documents submitted by the widow to be insufficient to substantiate her claim.

Additionally, the bench disagreed with the single-judge’s interpretation regarding the applicability of the 2014 circular/guidelines. While the single judge deemed them prospective and inapplicable to the widow’s case, given that her husband was already granted the pension in 1992, the division bench noted that the 2014 guidelines were already in effect when the widow submitted a fresh request for the pension in 2014.

As a result, the division bench concluded that the 2014 circular/guidelines would apply to the widow’s case as well.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the single-judge order.

Advocates Vidyavathi M Kothurshettar and VS Kalasurmath represented the State authorities (appellants), while advocates HM Dharigond and Sangeetha F Kallimani represented the widow during the proceedings.

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