Meghalaya High Court: H. S. Thangkhiew J. dismissed the petition and affirmed that the petitioner was not eligible to avail family pension.
Petitioner’s father was an employee under the State and retired on 31-08-1997. Her younger brother and her husband expired in the year 2002. She became solely dependent upon her father who also expired in 2015, followed by her mother in 2016. Petitioner in these circumstances, made representation to the competent authorities for the grant of family pension to her, being a widowed daughter of the deceased pensioner under the scheme extended vide O.M. dated 23-02-2010, issued by the Finance Department, Government of Meghalaya which was however rejected.
Memorandum stated that the revised provisions shall apply to the State Govt. employees who retired/died in harness after 01-01-2007 and contains provisions for calculation of pension.
Rule 48, provides that an unmarried/widowed/divorced daughter, would be entitled to family pension and that a person would be entitled for family pension, only after other eligible family members in the first category have ceased to be eligible to receive it.
It was submitted that if a person retires in 2007 at the age of 58 years, he would attain the age of 80 only in the year 2029, effectively ignore the case of existing petitioners who have attained the age of 80 years or above, on or after 01-01-2007.
Formal amendments to the Meghalaya Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1983, were made and the Meghalaya Civil Services (Pension) Fifth Amendment Rules 2010, came into being on 04-11-2010. By the said amendment rules, Rule 1(2) has also provided that the rules shall be deemed to have come in force on 01-01-2007.
Fixation of cut-off date, though in this case, may seem unjust as the petitioner has been deprived of the benefit allowed by the amended rules, but the law as it prevails, has held it to be, not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Court opined that affidavit of the State had clearly outlined the manner in which cut-off date arrived, and the process was undertaken by the Executive in this regard. The said decision is a reasoned policy decision, cannot be said to be arbitrary or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Petitioner thus was not eligible to avail family pension; she would be governed by the original Rule 48 of the Meghalaya Civil Services (Pension) Rules of 1983. The writ petition was dismissed.[Anindita Bhowmik v. State of Meghalaya, 2022 SCC OnLine Megh 27, decided on 25-02-2022]
Mr S. Sen, Adv. with Ms S. Shallam, Advocate for Petitioner
Mr N.D. Chullai, AAG with Ms I. Lyngwa, Advocate for the Respondent