C. Venkat Reddy &
Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors.  INSC 988 (8 May 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 403 OF 2006 C. Venkat
Reddy & Ors. ...Appellants Versus Union of India & Ors. ...Respondents
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 293 OF 2006 WITH WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 46 OF 2006
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
Petition (C) NO. 403 OF 2006 filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of
India, 1950 (in short the `Constitution') has been filed by 25 petitioners
claiming to be freedom fighters. They make a grievance that they had applied
for freedom fighters' pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension
Scheme, 1983 (in short the `Scheme') but there has been denial of the pension
without any reason. It is stated that several special screening committees
constituted by the State have favourably recommended their cases but nothing
concrete has been done and the State Government also has shown little interest
in the matter. Similarly in Writ Petition No. 46 of 2006, 32 persons have made
similar grievance. In each of these cases, the claim is that the petitioner
suffered imprisonment as a part of the freedom fight and therefore is entitled
to the pension.
counsel for the Union of India and the Government of Andhra Pradesh have filed
details and have stated that so far as the Writ Petition No. 403 of 2002 is
concerned, after a preliminary verification it was noted that 22 cases were
found to be genuine cases and have been recommended. In case of one Sh.
Narayana Reddy, it was found that he was under age as on March, 1947 and he was
not entitled to any benefit. It was also noted that two others namely Sh. K.J.
Shiva Nagaiah and Smt. Gangamma are dead and therefore the question of making
any recommendation does not arise. It is stated that on the basis of the orders
passed by this Court, 22 persons found to be prima facie genuine are being paid
pension with effect from 1.4.2002. This position is accepted by learned counsel
for the petitioners.
object of the scheme was highlighted by this Court in Mukundlal Bhandari v.
Union of India and Ors. (AIR 1993 SC 2127) "The object was to honour and
where it was necessary also to mitigate the sufferings of those who had given
their all for the country in the hour of its need. In fact, many of those who
do not have sufficient income to maintain themselves refuse to take benefit of
it since they consider it as an affront to the sense of patriotism with which
they plunged in the freedom struggle. The spirit of the scheme being both to
assist and honour the needy and acknowledge the valuable sacrifices made, it
would be contrary to its spirit to convert it into some kind of a programme of
compensation. Yet that may be the result if the benefit is directed to be given
retrospectively whatever the date the application is made. The Scheme should
retain its high objective with which it was motivated..."
in Gurdial Singh v. Union of India (2001 AIR SCW 3843) this Court observed as
"It should not
be forgotten that the persons intended to be covered by the scheme have
suffered for the country about half a century back and had not expected to be
rewarded for the imprisonment suffered by them. Once the country has decided to
honour such freedom fighters, the bureaucrats entrusted with the job of
examining the cases of 3 such freedom fighters are expected to keep in mind
the purpose and object of the scheme...."
are in respectful agreement with the view expressed in Mukundlal's and Gurdial
Singh's cases (supra). Genuine freedom fighters deserve to be treated with
reverence, respect and honour. But at the same time it cannot be lost sight of
that people who had no role to play in the freedom struggle should not be
permitted to benefit from the liberal approach required to be adopted in the
case of the freedom fighters, most of whom in the normal course are
septuagenarians and octogenarians. It baffles one, beyond comprehension, when
claim is made by a person who was not even born during the freedom struggle to
be a freedom fighter. Accepting claims of such persons to be freedom fighters
would be making a mockery of the scheme which is intended for genuine freedom
above position was highlighted in Bhaurao Dagdu Paralkar v. State of
Maharashtra (2005(7) SCC 605).
the reasons given above Writ Petition (C ) No. 403 of 2006 is disposed of on
the terms that in the 22 cases which have been found to be prima facie genuine,
let payment of pension be continued. It is made clear that if in future any
further action on the basis of materials is warranted, the same can be taken in
accordance with law.
petition is accordingly disposed of.
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL)
NO. 293 OF 2006 and WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 46 OF 2006
has been pointed out by learned counsel for the Government of Andhra Pradesh
that the summary of events is as follows:
30.7.2005 the Govt. have entrusted to Director General, Vigilance & Enforcement
Deptt. A.P., Hyderabad, for enquiry.
12.6.2006 Director General, Vigilance & Enforcement Deptt. A.P., Hyderabad,
has submitted report.
11.4.2007 the decision to conduct 100% re-verification has been communicated to
all the District Collectors-duly forming three Member Committee.
check list in consultation with the Govt. of India officials has also been
prepared and sent to the District Collectors for conducting re-verification.
consultations with the officials of the Govt. of India, Ministry of Home
Affairs (FF Division), amendments to the Check list (already send) has also
process of re-verification was progressing rather slowly on account of certain
ground level problems in the villages.
4.4.2007 & 23.5.2007 the reasons (mentioned aboe) for delay for furnishing
of verification in respect of W.P.(C ) No. 403 of 2002 filed by Sr. C.Venkat
Reddy & Ors. have been communicated the A.O.R.
the Govt. have received certain re-verification reports from the Districts and
they were forwarded to the Govt. of India but the Govt. of India could not take
any decision on the above cases.
19.9.2007 the Govt. of India have constituted a Screening Committee of Eminent
Freedom Fighters (SCEEF)- under the Chairmanship of Sri Konda Laxman Bapuji,
alongwith eight other Members, to scrutinize the re-verified cases relating to
Border Camp sufferings during Hyderbad Liberation Movement.
28.9.2007 the Govt. of India have changed the earlier check list and furnished
a revised one for conducting re-verification of the cases.
such on 7.12008 the Govt. of India have returned above 79 cases, which were
sent to them with earlier check list, with a request to conduct re-
verification based on their revised check list of 28.9.2007.
9.1.2008 first meeting of the Screening Committee of Eminent Freedom Fighters
Govt. of A.P. have received about 350 proposals and forwarded about 197 cases
to Govt. of India.
18th and 19th February, 2008, second meeting of the Screenings Committee of
Eminent Freedom Fighters is held and about 50 cases were discussed.
27.3.2008, third meeting of the Screening Committee of Eminent Freedom Fighters
is held and about 15 cases were discussed.
into account the various steps taken by the State of Andhra Pradesh, we direct
that the enquiry which is stated to be pending be completed within two months.
Immediately thereafter the report be submitted by the concerned Ministry to the
Union of India. On receipt of the report from the State Government, the Union
of India is directed to take necessary follow up within a period of three
writ petitions are accordingly disposed of.
(DR. ARIJIT PASAYAT)