Article 21 upheld for denying pension: Punjab High Court.
The Punjab High Court, in Kaushalya Devi v/s State of Punjab and others (CWP-1781-2023), delivered on 11th April, 2023, held that the state tried to take away the right to life of a widow. The judgement was presided by Honourable Mr. Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The husband of the petitioner was employed as a Junior Scale Stenographer. An FIR was lodged against him in the year 2014 and he was to undergo 3 years of imprisonment. Thereby, the petitioner’s husband had applied for premature retirement without the disclosure of criminal pendency proceedings against him. About 4 months of filing for premature retirement, he passed away in the year 2015. In the year 2016, the petitioner filed a writ petition seeking grant of family pension and retirement benefits. The learned counsel for the petitioner laid a reference to Darshan Singh v/s State of Punjab and others wherein the court had held that no 1/3rd of the pension of a convicted employee can be withheld. The learned counsel for the petitioner further contended that the husband of the petitioner passed away in the year 2015, and its been 8 years since the petitioner has been running from pillar to post to seek justice.
The Court held that observations regarding concealment of facts made by the husband was four years later when the husband had passed away. Pertaining to principles of natural justice, as the findings were against a dead person, there was my question of any disciplinary action or hearing against the petitioner’s husband. The Court contended that the right to receive pension was not only a statutory, but a constitutional right under Article 300-A, which had been violated by the State. Accordingly, there was infringement of Article 21, through which the State had tried to take the right to life of a widow. The Court laid a reference to Deokinandan Prasad v/s State of Bihar 1971 (2) SCC 330, wherein the Court held that “pension is not a bounty of the State and is rather a Fundamental Right under Article 31 (1) of the Constitution”. However, in present times, Article 300-A is recognised as a Constitutional right rather than a fundamental right. Lastly, the Court directed the State to pay a fine of ₹2 lacs to the petitioner within a period of 3 months, stating the reason as the petitioner was bed ridden and was seeking justice for the past 8 years due to which had to approach the Court twice.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ARYA THAKUR.
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