Bed-ridden woman seeks pension of deceased husband

Hearing a petition filed by a 56-year-old bed-ridden widow seeking pensionary benefits of her husband, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought an explanation from the then registrar, cooperative societies (Punjab), now working as secretary in Punjab transport department.

The bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri, while issuing a notice to the official (Vikas Garg), has also ordered to implicate him as a respondent in the case. The petitioner in the case is Kaushalaya Devi.

The petitioner – through her counsel Arnav Sood – has challenged the order of the then Punjab cooperative societies registrar, whereby the pension and pensionary benefits of the petitioner’s husband, who died four years ago, had been withheld.

Kaushalaya Devi’s counsel contended before the high court that the petitioner is a bed-ridden poor widow of 56 years of age. Her husband (Gurmail Singh) was working as junior scale stenographer in the department of cooperation, Punjab.

The counsel submitted that during the service, an FIR was registered against her husband and he was convicted in a case of voluntarily causing hurt and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for three years in March 2014, the appeal for which is still pending. However, the Punjab government accepted the request of the petitioner’s husband for voluntary retirement (VR) and an order was passed accepting the VR, which was after the conviction.

It was pointed out before the high court that once the husband of the petitioner was retired by way of an order, he was entitled to all the benefits of pension, but Gurmail Singh died on September 5, 2015.

Thereafter, the petitioner being the widow of Gurmail was entitled to family pension and the remaining pensionary benefits. But as they remained unpaid, she filed a petition before the high court in 2016, it was submitted.

The petition was decided in 2019, whereby the high court directed the state to decide the entitlement of the husband of the petitioner for grant of pensionary benefits keeping in view Rule 2.2 of Punjab Civil Services Rules. But the authority concerned did not pass any order for two months and eventually an order was passed on July 29, 2019, by the cooperative societies registrar stating that at the time when he retired after the date of his conviction, he had concealed the fact of the judgment awarding sentence.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that an order has been passed for withholding the pension and pensionary benefits of Gurmail Singh who had died four years ago and the entire pension has been withheld which is contrary to Rule 2.2 (a) of Volume II of Punjab Civil Services Rules .

HC after hearing the matter held that this court is of a prima facie view that the order which has been passed by the department of cooperation is contrary to statutory rules and order which has been passed by HC in a 2016 petition.

The high court said, “The petitioner is a widow of 56 years and this is her second round of litigation. The husband of the petitioner died in the year 2015 which is about eight years ago and it prima facie appears that the order (impugned order) has been passed without application of mind which resulted into difficulties faced by a widow.

An officer exercising his powers has to exercise the power in a reasonable and proper manner and in accordance with law…Ordinarily, this court would not imlead the officer in person who has passed an order but considering the aforesaid peculiar facts and circumstances where a bed- ridden widow of 56 years had to knock the doors of this court twice seeking justice for long eight years and prima facie impugned order is an illegal order not only in violation of rules but even the judgment passed by this court vide Annexure P-2 and therefore , this court is of the view that the explanation of the aforesaid officer needs to be called for.”

Adjourning the matter for February 16, HC said, “In view of the above, Vikas Garg, the then registrar, cooperative societies, Punjab, now working as secretary, department of transport, Punjab, is hereby implied as respondent No.3…Notice be issued to respondent No.3 also by way of registered post and e-mail. He shall also be at liberty to get himself represented through the office of the Advocate General, Punjab.”


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