Chandigarh, November 14
More than 80 years after he “took part” in the Quit India Movement, a 99-year-old freedom fighter Gurcharan Singh’s struggle for Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension may end soon.
‘Participated’ in Quit India Movement
- Gurcharan Singh ‘took part’ in Quit India Movement and applied for Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension on May 30, 1988
- The Ministry of Home Affairs rejected his case, contending that he suffered over eight-month imprisonment in mainland jails
- The petitioner’s case was declined ‘only on the strength of the recommendation not having been made by the Punjab committee’
Justice Vinod S Bhardwaj has made it clear that the state of Punjab will pay pensionary benefits prescribed under the Government of India scheme in case it was unable to trace the relevant file and documents and the Centre declined to make payment for want of documents.
Gurcharan Singh had moved the high court after the Ministry of Home Affairs rejected his pension case, contending that he suffered over eight-month imprisonment in mainland jails for participating in the Quit India Movement.
Justice Bhardwaj observed the petitioner submitted application under the ‘Samman’ scheme on May 30, 1988, along with complete particulars and certificates by two co-prisoners, which were duly verified by the Patiala District Magistrate-cum-Deputy Commissioner. Satisfied, he forwarded the petitioner’s case to the state government after which pension benefits were released in his favour.
Justice Bhardwaj observed the Union of India’s reply indicated that the petitioner’s case was declined by it on an earlier occasion “only on the strength of the recommendation not having been made by the Punjab committee”, which was held by the high court to be incompetent to examine cases of prisoners imprisoned in mainland jails. The order passed in February 1991 was not on account of the petitioner’s failure to append documents in relation to his imprisonment.
The deficiencies later noticed by the Rajpura Sub-Divisional Magistrate and relied upon by the Union of India did not find a mention in the earlier rejection order. Justice Bhardwaj added the petitioner had duly submitted the requisite documents along with his application dated May 30, 1988, to the state government and the same was duly verified. He could not be called upon to refurnish those documents, more so when persons who issued the certificates had passed away. Once the receipt of documents and pleadings were not disputed or denied, the respondents could not be permitted to reopen the already-closed aspects.
Justice Bhardwaj directed the state to trace its record pertaining to May 1998 application, along with the Patiala Deputy Commissioner’s verification in six weeks, while making it clear that the documents/record complete in all particulars would be forwarded to the Government of India for necessary processing in case it was traced.
“The Union of India shall thereafter take a considerate decision on the strength of the documents and the eligibility conditions as prescribed in the scheme. If there is no defect/deficiency noticed in the documents furnished on May 30, 1988, the requisite pensionary benefits shall be released from application date/framing of the scheme within eight weeks thereafter…,” Justice Bhardwaj added.
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