Mumbai: Observing that the pension scheme for freedom fighters was to honour them and not to compensate them for their sacrifice, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday slammed the Maharashtra government for its ‘attitude’ towards an 88-year-old woman freedom fighter.
The HC, accordingly, asked the government to pay Rs one lakh to her, along with the monthly pension of Rs 10,000, retrospectively from November 2013. A division bench of Justices Sanjay Gangapurwala and Arun Dhavale said, “The Freedom Fighters’ Pension was extended to honour and acknowledge the sacrifices made by them during the Independence struggle.
It was not meant for rewarding or compensating for their sacrifices.”“Considering the government’s attitude, we direct the authorities to bear the exemplary cost of the petition quantified at Rs 25,000. Madrawati is allowed to withdraw the entire amount of Rs one lakh, which was deposited by the authorities, pursuant to our earlier orders,” the judges said.
The bench imposed this fine of Rs 25,000 on the principal secretary, general administration department and also on the Collector, Latur.This comes after the authorities rejected the plea of Madrawati Kshirsagar, a freedom fighter from Latur, who had sought pension under the Freedom Fighters’ Pension scheme.
During the freedom struggle, Madrawati was jailed in the central prison, Gulbarga, which was in the erstwhile Nizam state. The bench noted, the government authorities first delayed deciding Madrawati’s plea for pension and later on, rejected it in 2016. The bench further noted that this move by the government to deny pension was contrary to its own notification as Madrawati had submitted proper documents.
The judges further noted that when Madrawati first produced the application with all necessary details in November 2013, along with the correct jail certificate, she was entitled to freedom fighters’ pension from the same period.“The normal rule is to grant pension from the date of application.
Any delay on the part of the government machinery in scrutiny of application should not come in way or adversely affect the pension claim,” the bench said.“When the application giving all necessary details along with correct jail certificate was before the competent authority, the authority was expected to take appropriate decision within reasonable time and if there is any delay, Madrawati cannot be made to suffer for the same,” the judges held.