Restore pension to woman who married late hubby’s brother: Punjab and Haryana High Court


Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, January 17

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that distinction could not be made between the widow of a person who died due to reasons attributable to, or aggravated, by government service and a person who died just in service.

The Division Bench of Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur also directed the restoration of pension to a widow, who married her late husband’s younger brother in a “Chadar Chuni” ceremony in June 1975.

The petitioner-widow had moved the High Court challenging the order dated April 29, 2016, passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh, rejecting her claim for family pension. The Bench was told that her husband initially enrolled in the Indian Air Force as a combatant member in January 1964.

He was discharged from services on medical grounds in November 1971 and granted disability pension at the rate of 20 per cent for life. He rejoined the Air Force Service as a civilian employee and married the petitioner in June 1974, but expired while in service in March 1975.

The respondents stopped the family pension sanctioned to the petitioner on the ground that she had remarried her late husband’s younger brother. The Tribunal held that Rule 12-A of the Central Civil Services (Extraordinary Pension) Rules could not be relied upon by the petitioner on the ground that the Rule becomes applicable only in the event of a government servant’s death or disability attributable to government service.

Referring to a Delhi High Court judgment, the Bench asserted its view was that there ought not to be a distinction between the widow of a person who died by reasons attributable to or aggravated by military service and a person who died just in service since the problems faced by the widows were identical. It undoubtedly applied to the instant case, if “we substitute the word ‘government service’ for ‘military service’ in the judgment”.

The Bench added: “Rule 12-A specifically permits a widow of an employee, who remarries deceased husband’s brother and continues to live communal life and contributes to the support of other family dependents of the deceased, to get extraordinary pension like Regulation 219 of the Army Pension Regulations, 1961, which was considered by the Delhi High Court.”

The Bench further added the benefit of Rule 12-A was required to be given to the petitioner, ignoring the cause of her first husband’s death, which was not attributable to government service. Allowing the plea, the Bench set aside the Tribunal’s order before directing the Union of India and other respondents to restore pension to the petitioner.