AFT | Widow of deceased renounces matrimonial house leaving mother-in-law in destitute; Mother and widow entitled to equal shares of family pension

Armed Forces Tribunal

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Division Bench of Justice Umesh Chandra Srivastava (Chairperson) and Vice Admiral Abhay Raghunath Karve (Member) A heard the instant application, whereby the mother of the ex-serviceman had sought for the grant of family pension.

The facts of the case were such that one, Sepoy Tarun Kumar Yadav was enrolled in Indian Army on 14-12-2004. Unfortunately, on 27-01-2013, when the deceased soldier was on temporary duty cum leave, he died in a car accident leaving behind his widow and mother as his dependants. A Court of Inquiry was conducted and the death of deceased soldier was declared as a physical casualty. Being nominee, Babita Yadav, widow of the deceased was paid all pensionary benefits after the death of soldier.

Thereafter, applicant being mother of the deceased soldier made several correspondences with the respondents for grant of at least half of the awards entitled to her son after his death but to no avail. The applicant submitted that,

After few months of death of her son, her daughter-in-law left her matrimonial house and started living with her parents in her parental house. She was repeatedly requested and persuaded to remain with the family as the applicant was completely shattered by the sudden death of her son and the separation of daughter-in-law was another blow to the applicant.  

Applicant was solely dependent on the earning of her son during her life time and after the death of her son, the widow had been paid all benefits and presently she was being paid family pension. Therefore, the applicant claimed that as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and Govt. of India, Ministry of Defence letter dated 31-01-2001, the applicant was entitled for pensionary and other benefits as applicable to the parents of the deceased soldier and accordingly, applicant should be given 50% share of family pension which had been paid to the wife of deceased solider.

The Tribunal observed that According to Section 8 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, Class I heirs are entitled to get share in assets left by a deceased. Since the widow had no child, the widow and mother were entitled to get share of family pension, being inherited property of the deceased soldier. The Tribunal expressed,

“It was the moral and even legal duty of widowed daughter-in-law to look after properly to the parents of deceased soldier who were wholly dependent on their son during his service and after death on his pensionary benefits, but to leave them in a destitute condition and herself living quite comfortably on the pensionary benefits of deceased soldier is quite unjust and unlawful on the part of her.”

In the light of above, the state was directed to consider the claim of the applicant for division of family pension in equal share (i.e. 50% each) between the wife and mother of deceased soldier.[Sunita Devi v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine AFT 2080, decided on 02-03-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Applicant: Shri V.P. Pandey, Advocate

For the Respondents: Dr. Shailendra Sharma Atal Central Govt Counsel and Shri R.Chandra, Advocate

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