The Himachal Pradesh High Court recently dismissed the Central Government's appeal and ordered it to pay all pension arrears, including interest, to the widow of a freedom fighter beginning in 1974.
The order was issued by a division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewa Dua on an appeal filed by the Central Government, which challenged the order of a single judge on the petition.
Petitioner Brahmi Devi had asked the Centre and the state government to grant her a freedom fighter's pension because she was the widow of Dhani Ram, who served in the Dogra Regiment as a sepoy until 1946 and took part in World War II.
Dhani Ram, who received the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal, and the War Medal, was declared a national freedom fighter, along with others in similar positions.
Himachal Pradesh issued a letter in 1973 awarding Tamrapatras to freedom fighters in Bilaspur, Mandi, Hamirpur, and Kullu districts, and the petitioner's husband's name appeared on the list, along with another freedom fighter, Lance Naik Lashkari Ram.
Dhani Ram was awarded a Tamrapatra on August 15, 1973, after the Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner recognised him as a freedom fighter and issued him an identity card. However, the state did not take into account his request for a pension. He continued to make representations until his death on May 2, 2010. Following that, his widow pursued his claim.
On September 29, 2016, the single judge Bench granted her petition, stating that “it is proved on record that the petitioner's husband was a freedom fighter and thus, she is entitled to the grant of freedom fighter pension from the due date, i.e. April 4, 1974.”
It had ordered that the pension be released within eight weeks, or the respondents would be required to pay 9% interest on the pension.
It is worthy to note that Dhani Ram was awarded a Tamrapatra on August 15, 1973, after the Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner recognised him as a freedom fighter and issued an identity card to him. However, the state did not take into account his request for a pension.