An article published by India Today claimed that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an unusual judgment had recently observed that the wife would be eligible for family pension even if she murders her husband. The article quotes an observation of the Court which stated that
“Nobody butchers the hen giving golden eggs. The wife cannot be deprived of the family pension even if she murders her husband. Family pension is a welfare scheme that was launched to provide financial help to the family in the event of a government employee’s death. Wife is entitled to family pension even if she is convicted in a criminal case,”
The article further quoted the facts of the case as ‘one Baljeet Kaur of Ambala told the court that her husband Tarsem Singh was a Haryana government employee who passed away in 2008. In 2009, she was booked for or a murder and was later convicted in 2011 (sic). Baljeet Kaur was getting the family pension till 2011 but the Haryana government stopped the pension immediately after her conviction.’
The article concluded by stating that the Court had directed the concerned department to release the petitioner’s family pension within two months along with the pending dues.
The screenshot of the news item can be seen below.
The screenshot of the controversial paragraph which stated that wife cannot be deprived of family pension even if she murders her husband can be seen below.
This news was also reported on other sites such as
Now let us test the veracity of the claims.
We looked up the judgment of this case on the website of Punjab and Haryana High Court and found a judgment with similar facts which was delivered on 25th January, 2021. The case was Baljinder Kaur vs. State of Haryana, CWP No. 24430 of 2017, delivered on 25.01.2021. The India Today article had got the name of the petitioner wrong. It was Baljinder Kaur and not Baljeet Kaur.
We read the judgment delivered by the court and found the paragraph quoted in red above has nowhere been mentioned in the written judgment. As per the facts, the petitioner’s husband died in 2008 after which she was receiving pension from the government for some time. However, after she was booked and later convicted for murder of another person in 2011 (who was obviously not her husband) she stopped receiving the pension. Therefore, the question of the wife murdering her husband does not arise in this case.
Under the Haryana Compassionate Assistance to the Dependents of the Deceased Government Employees Rules, 2006, the state government had denied the petitioner pension on the grounds that her conduct was not good as she was convicted of murder. They said that pension was not a charity or bounty and that it was a conditional payment depending upon the sweet will of the employer. As her sentence was not stayed and merely suspended for bail, they said that she was not entitled to any pecuniary benefits.
After going through the facts and arguments of the case, the bench of GS Sandhawalia, J. was of the opinion that denying pension to the petitioner on account of her conviction, was unrelated to the death of her husband and was therefore not sustainable. Accordingly, the said order was set aside.
The Court further clarified that it was not disputed that the petitioner had committed murder but she was out on bail and her sentence had been suspended. She needed the pension to maintain herself and the Court was of the opinion that she cannot be denied the financial assistance. Pension is not a bounty and is her right on account of the services rendered by her husband to the Government, the Court observed.
Therefore, we can safely conclude that the headline of the article on India Today and the quoted paragraph highlighted in red above is not reflected in the written judgment. The reasons for allowing pension to the petitioner was because her conviction for murder was in no way connected to the death of her husband.