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Swatantrata Sainik Samman Scheme can sanctioned as per proof required under scheme: SC reiterated

Further, in the case of Union of India vs. Bikash R. Bhowmik and Others2, this Court has held that the pension under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme of 1980 can be sanctioned as per the proof required under the scheme and in no other manner. In the said judgment, this Court has reversed the order passed by the High Court. (Para 27)

Union of India V A. Alagam Perumal Kone & Others

Civil appeal no.680 of 2021

February 22, 2021

The Hon’ble Supreme Court Justice Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy decided the present appeal filed by the Union of India. The 1st Respondent is the freedom fighter is getting pension as per the scheme. The application made by the respondent was first rejected in 1997 as application was not properly filed up. The respondent is entitled to get pension only when the respondent to furnish the required documents as proof.

The respondent has filed the Writ Petition before Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) to grant Freedom Fighter’s Pension under the Swatanrata Saainink Samman Pension Scheme. The High Court has dismissed the appeal without assigning valid reasons. The appellant has filed the Special Leave Petition in the Court. It is stated that being a veteran freedom fighter in Indian freedom struggle, he had suffered various losses and hardships including imprisonment. Moreover, he had to go underground for more than a year in 1942, as he was facing detention orders.

The learned Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the Union of India that the learned Single Judge of the High Court has disposed of the petition without issuing any notice and without giving any opportunity of filing counter affidavit to rebut the allegations, made in the writ petition. It is submitted that at the first instance, the 1st Respondent has applied for grant of pension in the year 1997 and the same was forwarded by the 2nd Respondent through 3rd Respondent without making any specific recommendations and the same was rejected, after lapse of several years, again, application is made for grant of pension. Even before the same is considered by the competent authority, the 1st Respondent has approached the High Court and the High Court has disposed of the petition without giving opportunity of filing counter affidavit. It is submitted that in spite of raising several grounds, the Division Bench also failed to consider the same, and confirmed the order of the learned Single Judge by dismissing the appeal filed by the appellant herein.

While exercising powers of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the High Court has committed error in issuing positive directions for grant of pension. When the scheme is prepared for grant of pension with certain conditions, unless compliance of such conditions is examined by the competent authority, no directions ought to have been issued, directing grant of pension. (Para 16)

the learned counsel appearing for the appellant, has contended that though the respondent has participated in the freedom struggle and suffered losses apart from his imprisonment during the period of Quit India Movement, he is unduly deprived of the pension, which he is entitled to, as per the scheme prepared. While considering the order passed in Special Leave Petition it is submitted that similar petition is already dismissed by the Court. It has further, submitted that the documents which are already filed, are sufficient to grant pension as per the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme and as the appellant was not considering his application for grant of pension, the learned Single Judge of the High Court has rightly issued directions for grant of pension. There are no grounds to interfere with the same.

The 1st respondent has made an application to grant pension in the year 1997 was rejected. The respondent again claimed pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme on the plea of his imprisonment for more than six months for participating in the Quit India Movement. From the first application and second application it's very clear that there is a variance in particulars mentioned at first instance, without issuing notice and without giving opportunity to the appellant to file counter affidavit, the Learned Sinfke Judge has disposed of the petition by granting pension. The respondent is entitled to the benefits of the scheme, only when he submits the relavant documents to authenticate the imprisonment period to claim pension. The court stated that when the application of the 1st Respondent is already rejected in the year 1997, when such rejection order has become final, it is not open for the 1st Respondent to make a claim for second time for pension again by way of fresh application. The court is of the veiw that it's not about granting of pension it's about the authority to grant pension. When the respondent has got the application rejected to grant pension it is said to be final. The high court stated that the respondent did not disclose the rejection before the appellant and High Court. The High Court ought not to have disposed of the petition filed by the Respondent without even issuing notice and giving opportunity to file counter affidavit to rebut the allegations made by the appellant. The judgment relied on by the learned Additional Solicitor General in the case of W.B.Freedom Fighters’ Organization v. Union of India and Others and in the case of Union of India v. Bikash R. Bhowmik and Others will support the plea of the appellant. The Division Bench of High Court has not considered various grounds raised by the appellant, while confirming the order of the learned Single Judge.

The 1st Respondent is getting pension as per the scheme, mooted by the State, but, at the same time, to claim pension under the scheme of 1980, the 1st Respondent has to furnish the required proof as contemplated under the scheme. When the claim is under a particular scheme, unless one fulfils the eligibility criteria for grant of pension, as mentioned in the scheme, no applicant can claim such pensions, as a matter of right. (Para 30)

The learned Counsel appearing for the respondent, the Writ Petitioner has placed reliance on the order passed by the Court in rejecting the Special Leave Petition and also, further, judgment of this Court in the case of Union of India v. Sitakant S. Dubhashi and Anr., we are of the view that the order passed by this Court and also the judgment in the case of Union of India v. Sitakant S. Dubhashi and Anr would not render any assistance in support of his claim.

The appeal is allowed and set aside the judgment passed by the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) and the Writ petition is dismissed.

Shantha Gopika R



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