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“Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme” – There is a rationale for extending the Scheme wit

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA & ORS. v SITAKANT S. DUBHASHI & ANR. CIVIL APPEAL NO.987 OF 2020, (arising out of SLP (C) No. 27297 of 2017) – February 11, 2020.

CORAM: Two judge bench comprising of Justice ASHOK BHUSHAN and Justice NAVIN SINHA

The respondent of this appeal applied for pension under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 before the Government of India. A notification was issued by the Government of India rejected the claim of the respondent for the same. Challenging this, a writ was filed before the High Court of Bombay at Goa by the respondent. The writ petition was allowed by the court and the appellant was directed to grant the pension under SSSP Scheme to the respondent. The Government of India aggrieved by the judgment has come up with this appeal.

The issue before this court is whether the respondent was entitled for the grant of SSS Pension and whether cut-off date fixed by the Government Order that applicant should be in receipt of State Pension is a valid condition.

The counsel for the appellant submitted that the SSSP scheme was applicable to the participants of the Goa Libration Movement with the condition that only those applicants shall be eligible to receive the benefits of the scheme. Also the issue of fixation of date was deliberated and consciously included in the scheme. It is also submitted that the respondent was granted State Pension and he did not fulfill the conditions of the scheme. The Government of India did not commit error in rejecting the claim of the respondent and the High Court has erred in holding that cut-off. The counsel contended that the claim of the respondent for State Pension was rejected due to enquiry and after obtaining the report from the Duty Inspector General of Police and other authorities.

The counsel for the respondent refused the contentions for the appellant. It was submitted that there is no rationale in fixing the cut-off date.

The court considered the submissions of the counsel for the parties and perused the record. The State of Goa has framed Rules in 1973 and 1988 for the grant of State Pension. “Goa freedom fighter’s Welfare Rules, contain the eligibility for grant of freedom fighter’s pension to persons who participate in National Liberation Movement or Liberation of Goa. Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme is a scheme of Central Government for grant of pension for those who participated in freedom movement of the country.” Thus the eligibility for the grant of pension under SSSP Scheme is entirely different from the eligibility under the Goa Rules.

The Central Government extended the SSSP Scheme to the participants of Goa Liberation Movement after examining the representations received from various quarters. The scheme clearly provides that the Central Pension is to be granted to the participants of the second phase of the Goa Liberation Movement who have granted freedom fighter pension by the State Government. From the materials on record it is clear that the Government of India deliberated on the issue of cut-off date and it was consciously fixed.

The eligibility under the SSSP Scheme is entirely different from the State Pension under the Goa Rules. The court held that there is a rationale for extending the Scheme with a cut-off date. The object of the Scheme was to sanction pension under the Scheme, 1980, who fulfill the eligibilities as per the Scheme. The court has carefully examined and looked into the materials before us as well as the original records. The High Court has referred the judgment of Mukund Lal Bhandari and Others Vs. Union of India and Others, (1993)supp. 3 SCC 2. In this case, the ground for rejection of the application for the grant of SSS Pension was that the petitioner had made an application after the date for making the application as specified in the scheme expired.

Thus the court decided from the observations that “The appellant ought to have been careful and produced relevant materials before the High Court for its consideration, but given opportunity by this Court, relevant materials have been brought on the record by way of additional Affidavit which materials we have perused. We thus are of the view that there was no error in rejecting the claim of respondent No.1 for grant of SSSP scheme”.

Thus this court allowed the appeal and the writ petition of the respondent stands dismissed.

– PRIYADHARSHINI R

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