Himachal Pradesh High Court: In a petition related to family pension, Jyotsna Rewal Dua, J has held that the second wife of a deceased employee is not entitled to family pension under the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 unless the personal law of the deceased employee allows more than one subsisting marriage.
Petitioner's claim was that since the deceased employee's wife has died, who was recipient of the family pension and no other claimant qua family pension survives, therefore, now she the second wife of deceased Bhola Ram is entitled to family pension.
The petitioner relied on Rule 54 of CCS Pension Rules which deals with situation where pension is payable to more than one wife and judgement of Madras High Court in C. Sarojini Devi v. Director of Local Fund Audits, WP No.34592 of 2019, dated 23.01.2020, where the Court held that the second wife was held entitled to the family pension.
The Court discussed Rule 54 of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules Pension Rules, 1972 (CCS Pension Rules) and Government of India decision No. (13) below Rule 54 of CCS Pension Rules in great detail and observed that generally, second wife will not be entitled for family pension as legally wedded wife but one and only condition in which she will be allowed is when more than one marriage is allowed under the deceased employee's personal laws.
The Court also relied on the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Raj Kumari v. Krishna, (2015) 14 SCC 511 where it was held that the pension is given to the legally wedded wife of a deceased employee.
The Court held that the petitioner being the second wife of the deceased employee, who was a Hindu, cannot be held entitled to family pension.
The Court also discussed the entitlement of the family pension by the children born from void and voidable marriages. The Court observed that as per Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, children of born out of null and void marriage shall be legitimate and under Rule 54(7) (c) of CCS (Pension) Rules, the pensionary benefits will be granted to the children alongwith the legally wedded wife.
[Durga Devi v. State of H.P., Civil Writ Petition No. 1657 of 2016, dated 05-08-2022]
*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.