Petitioner granted pensionary benefits after 25 years in light of being an illiterate widow

Meghalaya High Court: A civil writ petition praying for granting pensionary benefits to the petitioner after 25 years of death of her husband, was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, CJ.

The husband of the petitioner who retired from Assam Rifles, had died in 1993. After that the pension and other benefits were not given to her by the respondents, creating an impression on her that same was not permissible. The petitioner continued to live in destitute and a literary magazine, working towards improving lives of old aged men and women, espoused the cause of the petitioner. However, the respondents refused to allow payment of pensionary benefits. Aggrieved thus, the present petition was filed.

The High Court perused the record and found that the petitioner was an illiterate woman living in far off area; thus the delay of even around 25 years ought to be condoned and that would not stand as a bar to the claim of the petitioner. Further, simply alleging that the petitioner had eloped with another man during her marriage with the deceased husband, as was done by the respondents, was without meaning or logic. Lastly, since the parties were Hindus, the alleged divorce between the petitioner and her husband could have been granted under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act 1995. In absence of any such decree, this contention of the respondents was also liable to be rejected. In such facts and circumstances, the petition was allowed and the respondents were ordered to pensionary benefits to the petitioner as were due to her since the death of her husband. [Dhan Maya v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine Megh 52, dated 31-5-2018]

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