Patna High Court emphasizes on role of Welfare State; directs authorities to “release pension and death-cum-retiral benefits”

Patna High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of Anil Kumar Upadhyay, J. while hearing a civil writ petition filed by a widow for payment of family pension and death cum post retiral benefits, came down heavily upon the State for the prolonged delay in making payment and emphasized on the functions of a Welfare State.

The petitioner’s husband died in harness in October 2010 pursuant to which his wife claimed death cum retrial benefits. However, despite authorization by the concerned department the benefits were not paid to her and she was constrained to file a writ petition praying for a direction to the concerned authorities for payment of family pension and death cum post retiral benefits. After the Accountant General of Bihar issued the necessary Pension Payment Order (PPO) and Gratuity Payment Order (GPO), the court disposed of the petition noting that now the petitioner had to approach the Treasury Officer for receiving the benefit amount. Petitioner approached the Treasury Officer but nothing was done at that level and under these compelling circumstances, she filed a contempt application against the Treasury Officer. However, since Treasury Officer was not a party to the writ petition filed by petitioner, the application was dismissed. It is after all these proceedings that the instant writ petition had been preferred by the petitioner, once again, praying for a direction to the concerned authorities for payment of family pension and death cum post retiral benefits.

The Court noted that the petitioner’s husband had died in 2010 and since eight years the deceased’s widow had been running from pillar to post to claim her legitimate rights. In view of peculiar facts of the case including the fact that the petitioner had approached the High Court earlier on two occasions, it was opined that reluctance on the part of the respondent- authorities could not be condoned. The court observed that a Welfare State is obliged to discharge its social obligation in the matter of grant of family pension and other death cum post retiral dues, and inaction on the part of the respondent-authorities indicated that they were not sensible towards the social security measures adopted by the Welfare State.

The writ petition was disposed of with a direction to fix accountability on the erring officers who were responsible for the delay in making payment of death cum post retiral dues including family pension to the petitioner. It was further directed that in the event of any delay in making payment of the admitted dues to the petitioner beyond 60 days from the date of receipt/production of a copy of this order, entire arrears would carry interest at the rate of 9% and the concerned officer including the Treasury Officer shall be personally obliged to pay the interest component from their own pockets. [Sarojni Devi v State of Bihar,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1795, decided on 05-10-2018]

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