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Kanta Devi Vs. Union of India & Ors [1994] INSC 487 (20 September 1994)

Hansaria B.L. (J) Hansaria B.L. (J) Kuldip Singh (J)

CITATION: 1994 SCC (6) 300 1994 SCALE (4)191

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by B.L. HANSARIA, J.- The petitioner, a widow of an ex- serviceman, has made a grievance, and rightly, that she is not being paid family pension only because she was married to the ex-serviceman after his retirement from active service. This has come to happen because para 6 of the Army Instruction No. 51 of 1980 which has defined 'Family', though includes wife, says in Note (2) that marriage after retirement will not be recognised.

2. The petitioner has assailed the reasonableness of this provision and we have no difficulty in agreeing with the petitioner inasmuch we cannot countenance the stand and submission that marriages after retirement are performed with an eye to get family pension. This thinking is really abhorrent. As persons retire early from armed services, they remain of marriageable age in many cases and do need company of a consort to be with them in times of distress.

As family pension becomes due on the death of the incumbent, the rider contained in the Note is indeed a harsh and heartless provision, as it denies family pension to those who shared the difficulties the ex-servicemen faced after their retirement.

3. In view of the above, we strike down Note (2) because of its irrationality and direct the respondents to pay family pension to the petitioner, as if the aforementioned Army Instructions had not contained Note (2). All the required actions shall be taken within three months from today.

4. The petition is allowed accordingly. Cost assessed at Rs5000.

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