Punjab and Haryana High Court: In a writ petition challenging rejection of family pension to petitioner by the Central Administrative Tribunal (‘CAT') on the ground of remarriage, the bench of M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Sukhvinder Kaur, JJ. directed restoration of pension.

In the present matter, the petitioner was denied pension by CAT, Chandigarh.based on Rule 12A of the Central Civil Services Rules (‘CCS Rules') (Extraordinary Pension) because the petitioner, a widow had remarried her deceased husband's brother in Chadar Chuni ceremony.

The deceased was a civilian employee who passed away during service. The petitioner gave birth to deceased's daughter a few days after his death. The family pension was sanctioned to the petitioner, and later, she remarried. Hence, she was a widow, who was not childless and got remarried as well, because of which, the pension was stopped in 1982 on the ground of remarriage. The petitioner made representations before some authorities for restoration of pension before approaching CAT. On 10-04-2015, CAT passed an order asking the government to consider the petitioner's claims, which was thereby rejected by it on the ground of remarriage, birth of a girl child and nature of pension.

Petitioner's another attempt before CAT led to rejection based on Rule 12A of the CCS (Extraordinary Pension) Rules. The Tribunal also stated that the previous pension was under Rule 54 of the Family Pension Rules 1972, because of which, CCS (Extraordinary Pension) Rules do not apply. Hence, the present petition was filed challenging CAT's orders rejecting the petitioner's family pension claim.

The Courtrelied on Kashmiro Devi v. Union of India, 2008 SCC OnLine Del 608 , wherein the Court has explained the purpose of provisions granting family pension to Army personnel's widows, and held that “the object of maintaining widow in the commune of the family remains the same and that is why an exception was carved out in Regulation 219 of Army Pension Regulations, 1961 making her eligible for grant of family pension even though she had remarried, provided that such remarriage is to her deceased husband's brother, if she continues to live a communal life and contributes to the support of other living eligible heirs.”

The Court observed that “The problems faced by the widows in both situations are identical, and the difference in the cause of death cannot be made to result in the difference of the value of pension.”

The Court concurred with Delhi High Court's view that Rule 12-A of CCS (Extraordinary Pension) Rules specifically permits the widow of an employee remarried to deceased husband's brother, to get extraordinary pension like Regulation 219 of the Army Pension Regulations, 1961.

The Court held that the petitioner should be entitled to benefits under Rule 12-A of the CCS (Extraordinary Pension) Rules and set aside CAT's order dated 29-04-2016 and directed the respondents to restore petitioner's pension from 29-04-2011, along with interest at the rate of 6% from the said date till the date of payment. Payment of arrears directed to be paid to the petitioner under Rule 12-A of the CCS (Extraordinary Pension) Rules within 3 months, and to be continued to be paid during her lifetime.

[Sukhjeet Kaur v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine P&H 33, decided on 12-01-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate R.N. Ojha

For Respondents: Advocate Amit Arora

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