HC imposes Rs 20K cost on Centre for not paying Pension to 96-year-old Freedom Fighter

The Delhi High Court has imposed cost of Rs 20,000 on the central government for its “lackadaisical approach” in granting pension to a 96-year-old freedom fighter.

The high court said the case reflected “complete sad state of affairs” as freedom fighter Uttim Lal Singh was made to wait for over 40 years and run from pillar to post to get his rightful pension.

Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the Centre to pay Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension to Singh within 12 weeks with interest from 1980.

“It is painful to see the way in which the freedom fighters are being treated and the insensitivity shown by the Union of India towards freedom fighter who has fought for the independence of the country,” the high court said.

“For the lackadaisical approach of the Union of India, this court deems it fit to impose costs of Rs 20,000 on the Union of India. Let the costs be paid to the petitioner within 6 weeks from today,” the court said in its judgement passed on November 2.

It noted that the government of Bihar had recommended the petitioner’s case and sent the original documents to the central government in March 1985. However, the documents got lost while they were with the central government.

The court noted that the Bihar government had verified the petitioner’s name once again and sent a letter to the central government on July 14, 2022. The pension, however, was not released yet, it said.

“The inaction of the Central Government is actually an insult to the freedom fighter who was declared as a proclaimed offender and probably his entire land would have been attached in the proceedings initiated by the British Government. The very spirit of the pension scheme is being defeated by the stonewall approach of the Government of India which cannot be appreciated by this court,” the high court said.

The court was dealing with a petition by Singh who said he was born in 1927 and had participated in the Quit India Movement and other movements associated with the freedom struggle.

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It said he was made an accused by the British government and declared a proclaimed officer in September 1943.

He had applied for the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension in March 1982 and his name was sent by the Bihar government to the Centre in February 1983. The recommendation was reiterated in September 2009, the plea said.

In November 2017, the central government said Singh’s records were not available with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Bihar government was requested to share verified copies of the relevant documents.

Even after that, several communications were exchanged between various authorities but the petitioner did not get his pension.

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