Fact ChecksNews

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

  1. News 18
  2. Daily Hunt

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.

Conclusion

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.

Fact ChecksNews

In a Whatsapp forward circulating alongwith screenshots of a newspaper article, social media in Tamil Nadu is abuzz with the news that Madras High Court has ordered landlords not to collect rent for the months of April, May and June.

The screenshots of the four messages are given below:

If we look at the third image, mischievously certain words have been underlined to give the impression that Madras High Court has waived off rent for 3 months. However this is not the case. In reality, a Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Court to waive off rent for these months of the Lockdown. The Court has issued notice to the government to reply to the PIL filed. No order has been issued by the Court and the matter is still subjudice.

The plea was moved by the petitioner Advocate LK Charles Alexander, citing that governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka have deferred rent payments for tenants owing to the Covid crisis. He moved the High Court seeking the state government of Tamil Nadu  to restrain landlords from demanding rent during this period.

The order of the High Court has not yet been uploaded on the Court website therefore we approached the petitioner L.K. Charles Alexander directly, who confirmed to us that the case of LK Charles Alexander vs.The Secretary to Government, Writ Petition No. 8378/2020 was heard on 2nd July, 2020.  The matter was taken up by the division bench of R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramaswamy, JJ. and they had ordered that two weeks time is given to the government to file an affidavit.

On March 29 and March 30, 2020  the centre and state government of Tamil Nadu had issued orders to defer payment of rent for the month of March however no such decision has been taken until now for the months of April, May and June.

Therefore, we can safely say that the social media message with the maroon background is clearly misleading. No order has been issued by the Courts or the State Government of Tamil Nadu to defer payment of rent and the matter is subjudice. The Court has merely issued a notice to the Government to reply to the PIL.


Nilufer Bhateja, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Hot Off The PressNews

Taking note of provisions regarding “Fake News” mentioned in the Media Policy 2020 whereby Government of Jammu and Kashmir authorises its officers to decide the content of print, electronic and other forms of media for “fake news” and proceed against journalists and media organisations, the Press Council of India has moved suo motu as the matter affects the functioning of the press.

Comments in the stated matter have been called from the Chief Secretary the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and Secretary, Information Department, Department of Information and Public Relations, Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

PRESS RELEASE


Press Council of India

Press Release dt. 16-06-2020

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: R.K. Deshpande, J. addressed a Public Interest Litigation challenging the order passed by Deputy Commissioner of Police under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 with regard to prohibition of dissemination of information through social media platforms to protect people from false news.

The complaint pertains to prohibition of persons disseminating the information through messages, social media platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, etc. Object of issuing the order seems to genuinely protect the persons from false and incorrect information being provided in respect of COVID 19 disease, which is spread all over.

The said mater was presented by Sandeep Parikh, Advocate for the petitioner and P.H. Kantharia, Government Pleader, Kedar Dighe, AGP, for respondent-State.

Bench did not find the said matter to be urgent in nature and thus asked the same to be put up in regular course. [Pankaj Rajmachikar v. State of Maharashtra, PIL (Lodging) No. 24 of 2020, decided on 15-04-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court, while hearing to a writ petition, took serious note of the panic created by Fake News leading to mass movement of migrant labourers. This has lead to untold suffering to these people, the Court observed.

Following up on the Court’s observations, Secretary, Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA), Ajay Kumar Bhalla has written to all States/UTs to take effective measures to fight Fake News.

It has been communicated that the Government of India is creating a web-portal for people to verify facts and unverified news promptly. States/UTs have been requested to create a similar mechanism at their level for issues relating to them.

The Apex Court has also made observations and directions to ensure provision of basic amenities such as food, medicines etc. in line with NDMA/MHA directives and other welfare activities in relief shelters for migrant labourers. The States/UTs have been communicated to comply with the Directives/Advisories/Orders issued by Central Government in letter and spirit, for containment of spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Click here to see Communication to States/UTs


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 02-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Hot Off The PressNews

Singapore Parliament passed a bill against “fake news” — Protection From Online Flasehoods and Manipulation Act, 2019 which would force media to correct or remove content the government considers to be false.

The stated Act will require online media platforms to carry corrections or remove content the government considers to be false, with penalties for perpetrators including prison terms of up to 10 years or fines up to S$1m ($735,000).

The Bill was introduced on 01-04-2019 and passed on 08-05-2019.

“The said Act would prevent electronic communication in Singapore of false statements of fact, to suppress support for counteract the effects of such communication, to safeguard against the use of online accounts for such communication and for information manipulation, to enable measures to be taken to enhance the transparency of online political advertisements, and for related matters.”

*Please follow the link for detailed Act: Protection From Online Flasehoods and Manipulation Act, 2019