SHIMLA: Dismissing an appeal filed by the Central government challenging the order of grant of pension to the widow of a freedom fighter with effect from 1974, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed it to pay all the arrears of pension, including the interest, to her.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewa Dua passed the order on an appeal filed by the Centre, challenging the order by a single judge on the petition.
Petitioner Brahmi Devi had sought directions to the Centre and the state governments to grant freedom fighter’s pension to her, being widow of Dhani Ram, who had served in the Dogra Regiment as a sepoy till 1946 and participated in World War II.
Awarded the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal, he, along with similarly placed people, were declared as freedom fighters of the nation.
In 1973, Himachal Pradesh issued a letter to award Tamrapatras to the freedom fighters in Bilaspur, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kullu districts and the petitioner’s husband name was there along with one another freedom fighter — Lance Naik Lashkari Ram.
On August 15, 1973, Tamrapatra was awarded to Dhani Ram, who was acknowledged as a freedom fighter by the Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner and was issued an identity card. However, the request for grant of pension to him was not considered by the state. He went on making representations till his death on May 2, 2010.
Thereafter, his widow had been pursuing his claim.
The single bench had allowed her petition on September 29, 2016, observing that “it is proved on record that the husband of the petitioner was a freedom fighter and therefore, is entitled for grant of freedom fighter pension from due date, i.e. April 4, 1974”.
It had directed that the pension shall be released within eight weeks, failing which, the respondents shall be liable to pay nine per cent interest on the pension.
The Centre filed the appeal against the order of the single judge.
Disposing off the appeal, the court observed that there “is sufficient material on record, which is not disputed by the appellants, that Lashkari Ram was along with the writ petitioner in the freedom struggle and the names of both figured in the list of Tamrapatra”.
The court observed that “if one person is granted the benefit, the other must be granted the same benefit, therefore, the learned single judge was justified in granting pension to the writ petitioner”.
“When the facts of the case are not in dispute and when it is admitted that the writ petitioner is a freedom fighter, necessarily he will be entitled to the said benefit and the state cannot deny the benefit to him,” it said.
It has directed the Central government to file a compliance report by August 23.