HC said the government should in fact find out those freedom fighters who were in poverty and knock at their doors to give them pension.
Madurai: Coming down hard on the centre for rejecting a freedom fighter's pension application on "hyper technical" grounds, the Madras High Court on Friday ordered that the benefits be extended to his legal heirs since he had passed away.
Justices K Ravidhancrababu and T Krishnavalli gave the order while dismissing the home ministry's appeal against the order of a single judge, directing the government to grant the Swathandra Sainik Samman Pension to Periaiah.
The court said the sufferings of freedom fighters cannot be looked at mechanically or technically with shaded glasses. The ground reality and the sufferings undergone by them should be looked into and the application should be considered with a sense of responsibility and realisation that they are dealing with a person who fought for the country's freedom, it said.
Stating that grant of pension to freedom fighters was not charity, but an honour conferred on them, the court said the government should in fact find out those freedom fighters who were in poverty and knock at their doors to give them pension.
On the Assistant Solicitor General's contention that the pension was rejected as the certificates of two co-prisoners differed, the court pointed out that one of them had given enough evidence to show Periaiah was in prison from June 5, 1943 to May 13,1946 after participating in the Quit India Movement and undergoing trial in a Madurai court in 1942-43. He had been lodged in Alipuram Jail.
Besides, Periaiah was receiving the Tamil Nadu government's freedom fighter pension.
"The officials should be pragmatic in their approach instead of adopting a pedantic way of looking to fish out reasons for rejecting the claim," the court said.
It said the rules had been framed only to help the beneficiaries and not reject the benefits, adding that even a piece of evidence, which is satisfactory, was sufficient to grant pension.
As the petitioner passed away during the pendency of the petition, the government cannot say that the legal heirs who continue with the appeal as respondents cannot come into the picture, the court said.
They are entitled to get the benefits; it said and directed the Collector to forward the application to the state government with his report in four weeks.
The state government should then forward it to the Union government within six weeks and the centre should give the benefits within eight weeks thereafter, the court added.