August 18, 2021

Himachal High Court

Vijyender Sharma
SHIMLA-----Dismissing an  Appeal filed by the Central  Government, challenging the order of grant of pension to the widow of a freedom fighter w.e.f. 4.4.1974, the High Court of H.P. has  directed the Centre Government to pay all the arrears of pension  including the  interest to her.

            The  Division Bench comprising of Acting Chief  Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewa Dua, passed these orders  in an appeal  filed by the Union of India challenging the order  passed in a Writ Petition by the Single Judge.

The writ petitioner Brahmi Devi had sought directions to the Centre and State Government to grant Freedom Fighter's Pension to her, being widow of Freedom Fighter Late Shri Dhani Ram.  The Petitioner had submitted that Late Shri Dhani Ram  served in the Dogra Regiment as a Sepoy till 1946 and participated in World War-II by joining the Indian Army from 1939 to 1945.  He was awarded the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal. He alongwith similarly placed persons were declared as freedom fighters of the Nation. In 1973, the State of Himachal Pradesh issued a letter to award Tamrapatras to the freedom fighters in the Districts of Bilaspur, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kullu and the petitioner's husband Sh. Dhani Ram's name was at Serial No.37 alongwith one another freedom fighter Sh. Lashkari Ram (Lance Naik), who appeared at Serial No.12.  On 15.08.1973, Tamrapatra was awarded to Sh. Dhani Ram. That Late Shri Dhani Ram was a freedom fighter, was acknowledged by the Deputy Commissioner Bilaspur and he was also issued an Identity Card. The request of Sh.Dhani Ram for grant of pension was not considered by the State. He went on making representations and unfortunately, he died on 02.05.2010. Thereafter, the petitioner, his widow, has been pursuing his claim and since the claim was not acceded to, by the respondents, the writ petition was filed by the petitioner.

The Single Bench had allowed the petition on 29.09.2016 and had observed that it is proved on record that the husband of the petitioner was freedom fighter and therefore, was entitled for grant of freedom fighter pension from due date, i.e. w.e.f. 04.04.1974. The Single Bench  had directed that the pension shall be  released within eight weeks, failing which, the respondents shall be liable to pay  9% interest on the said pension.  .

The Centre Government filed the appeal against the orders of the Single Judge.

Disposing off  the appeal, the Court observed that  there is sufficient material on record, which is not disputed by the appellants, that Lashkari Ram was along with the writ petitioner in the freedom struggle and the names of both figured in the list of Tamrapatra. The Court observed that  if one person is granted the benefit, the other must be granted the same benefit,  therefore, the learned Single Judge was justified in granting pension to the writ petitioner w.e.f. 04.04.1974. The court also observed that , when the facts of the case are not in dispute and when it is admitted that the writ petitioner is a freedom fighter, necessarily he will be entitled to the said benefit and State cannot deny the benefit to him.

The Court has directed the Central Government to file compliance  by  August 23, 2021.

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