After waiting for 30 years, freedom fighter’s widow to receive pension

New Delhi: The Madras High Court has slammed the Union Home Ministry for delaying pension of a freedom fighter’s widow for over three decades. It has directed the centre to sanction the amount, which was withheld for 30 years owing to delay in consideration of woman’s application.

The matter relates to L Kathayee Ammal, the widow of freedom fighter Lakshmana Thevar, who has been made to wait for 30 years for the pension.

Justice R Suresh Kumar said the attitude on the part of officials responsible for keeping the application pending for more than three decades is to be deprecated.

“Had the application of the petitioner decided in 1973 and disposed of, either way, the petitioner would have been in a position either to get the fruits of the freedom fighter family pension or would have protested over the issue in the matter known to the law,” the judge said.

Ammal’s application has been kept pending by the central government and the court wants to register its displeasure against all those responsible, the judge said in his order.

Application pending since 1973

  • The petitioner’s husband was an ex- Indian National Army personnel who joined the INA in Malaysia and was captured by the British.
  • After the Second World War, the petitioner’s husband applied to the Tamil Nadu and central governments seeking freedom fighters’ pension, but before the application was considered, he died in 1969.
  • Then, his wife applied for the pension the state considered the plea but the Centre kept her application pending since 1973 only to reject it in 2003, and it has since been pending.

The judge, who quashed the rejection order, directed the Centre to sanction the freedom fighters family pension to the petitioner from the date of her application, that is, from September 25, 1973.

The arrears of the payment shall be calculated and be paid to her with interest at 6 per cent per annum from the date of due to till date of payment and shall continue to pay it till her lifetime, the judge said.

The judge imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the Home Ministry for the lethargic attitude and directed that the dues shall be paid within a duration of two months from the date of the receipt of the copy of the order.

Observing that in any democratic set-up the rulers in governance would make policy decisions for the welfare of the people, the judge said, “The policy-makers always depend on the administrative machinery that has to implement such policies.”

While implementing the policies, the judge said, those at the helm of affairs in administrative hierarchy should go in unison with the policy-makers only then every policy decision of the government would reach people for their betterment.

(With inputs from PTI)