FPJ Impact: Maharashtra Govt Finally Agrees To Extend Financial Benefits To Widow Of Major Anuj Sood After Bombay HC Order

FPJ Impact: Maharashtra Govt Finally Agrees To Extend Financial Benefits To Widow Of Major Anuj Sood After Bombay HC Order

Aakriti Sood is the widow of late Major Anuj Sood, who was killed by terrorists while rescuing civilians from J&K

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 02:29 PM IST
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FPJ Impact: Maharashtra Govt Finally Agrees To Extend Financial Benefits To Widow Of Major Anuj Sood After Bombay HC Order | FPJ

The Maharashtra government has finally conceded to granting financial benefits to Aakriti Singh Sood, widow of late Major Anuj Sood, who was martyred in May 2020 in Jammu and Kashmir. Aakriti Sood had approached the Bombay High Court through advocate Sneha Bhange  seeking benefits for ex-servicemen under two government resolutions of 2019 and 2020. Major Sood lost his life on May 2, 2020 while rescuing civilian hostages from terrorist hideouts in Jammu and Kashmir, and was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.

The state government rejected her application seeking benefits to kin of martyrs saying that only those who were born in Maharashtra or have lived in the state continuously for 15 years were eligible for monetary benefit and allowance. During the hearing on Wednesday, State Advocate General Birendra Saraf told a bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla that the government resolution was issued on April 15 under which it has decided to grant financial benefits to Aakriti Sood and Chandrakant Sood, Anuj Sood’s father. 

According to the GR, the state has considered the case of the Aakriti Sood as a “special case” and in the “light of the observations made by the high court” [on earlier occasions], it has decided to grant financial benefits to her and her father-in-law, Chandrakant Sood.  An amount of Rs60 lakh would be granted to Aakriti Sood and Rs40 lakh to Chandrakant Sood, the GR states. Also, a monthly amount of Rs9,000 has been awarded to Aakriti Sood under the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar Yojana. 

Saraf: making an exception had become a bit ‘difficult”

Saraf said that making an exception had become a bit ‘difficult”, but the court order helped. Earlier, on April 4, the HC had asked chief minister Eknath Shinde to consider Aakriti Sood’s case as a special case and grant her financial benefits. The state advocate told the HC that it could be extended only to those born in the state who have lived in the state for 15 continuous years. The bench had asked the chief minister to consider the petitioner's case as a special case and extend the benefits. 

Despite the HC order, the state, on April 12, reiterated that benefits couldn't be extended to Sood's widow as he was not a "domicile" of the state. Government pleader PP Kakade had said, “We need to take a proper policy decision for which we need to approach the cabinet. The cabinet is not sitting now.” Expressing that it was “not happy” and “surprised” over the government’s failure to decide on granting monetary benefits to the family of late Major Anuj Sood, the bench has asked the government to put it on affidavit. The state, on Wednesday, finally said that it has decided to extend the benefit as a “special case”. 

How did things fall in place?

Appreciating the government's decision, the bench said the government has given respect to a difficult situation. “These are real human agonies. Always, there is an exception... it is a special case,” Justice Kulkarni said.  “We highly appreciate the stand taken by the Chief Minister and the state government in considering the petitioner’s case as a special case and granting benefits,” the bench noted in its order.  The court has disposed of the petition noting that the amount shall be disbursed as expeditiously as possible. 

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