& Ors Vs. Ram Rakhi  INSC 387 (28 July 2000)
V. Patil, S.R.Babu Rajendra Babu, J. :
filed a suit seeking a mandatory injunction to the appellants to sanction and
pay family pension, G.P.F., Death-cum- Retirement Gratuity, ex-gratia grant and
leave encashment etc. Her case is that she is the widowed sister of Shri Dalip Chand,
who was working as a Lineman in the appellants establishment at the time of his
death. The suit was resisted by the appellant and it is contended that deceased
Dalip Chand did not nominate any person to be paid the family pension or G.P.F.
nor any member of his family was dependent on Dalip Chand for payment of family
trial court decreed the suit in respect of various claims made by the
respondent. The matter was carried in appeal unsuccessfully. In the second
appeal in the High Court it was noticed that the matter is covered by the
decision in Jasohdhan Devi vs. State of Punjab and Anr, 1989 (6) S.L.R. 664 and
therefore no interference is called for as the widowed sister is recognized as
member of the family entitled to family pension.
contention put forth before this Court is that the respondent is not a member
of the family as per the new pension rules which came into force in 1964 under
which only spouse and children of the deceased employee will constitute members
of the family. In addition it is contended that even if the respondent is a
member of the family under the old rules, in which an unmarried widowed sister
is included in the definition of family, still she has to fulfil other
conditions arising under the other relevant provisions of the Rules and those
conditions having not been fulfilled the Courts below were not justified in
passing the decree for grant of family pension. The learned counsel for the
respondent submitted that the view taken by the Courts below is absolutely
justified and no interference is called for.
three claims had been made by the respondent, the learned counsel for the
appellant confined his case only to one aspect of the matter namely, grant of
family pension and in regard to other two aspects did not challenge the decree
passed by the Courts below as affirmed by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana.
Therefore, we will rivet our attention only to the question of grant of family
pension to the respondent.
fact that respondent is a widowed sister of the deceased employee of the
appellant is not in dispute. It is also not in dispute that he did not exercise
his option to be governed by the Pension Scheme 1964 and therefore the
restricted definition given to the expression `Family confining only to
spouses, sons and unmarried daughters has no application. On the other hand,
the relevant rules in Punjab Civil Services Rules Vol. II 1960 Ed. would be
applicable wherein in Rule 6.16- D (1) an explanation is added to define as to
what family is and that definition adopts the definition set out in Rule 6.16-B
(1)(a) except certain persons and that rule clearly includes a widowed sister.
Therefore in the absence of any option having been exercised by the deceased
employee to adopt new Rules, old Rules govern him as rightly held by the High
Court following the decision in Jasodhan Devi v. State of Punjab (supra), a widowed sister does
become a member of the family who could claim pension under those Rules. So far
as this aspect of the matter is concerned, the view taken by the Courts below
is absolutely justified and calls for no interference.
the matter does not rest at what we have stated so far. In order to become
entitled to claim family pension, the conditions specified in Chapter VI,
sub-heading D:`Family Pensions, have to be fulfilled. Clause (a) of Rule 6.16-D
provides that no pension is payable without production of any proof that such
person was dependent on the deceased officer for support in respect of those
falling within sub-rule (4)(b). Sub-rule (4) applies to two categories of the
members of the family. The first category consists of spouses and children. The
second category coming under clause (b) are all other relatives of the deceased
such as parents and siblings. So far as relatives other than spouse and
children are concerned there is a condition that they are dependents on the
deceased employee for support has to be established by adducing reasonable
proof to claim pension. Further the scheme of grant of pension is by way of
exclusion of a relative mentioned in the earlier category with reference to the
one mentioned in the latter category. In the first place it is to be
established that there was no nomination in respect of any one of them and that
such person was a dependent of the deceased employee at the time of the death.
In the absence of such proof family pension cannot be granted. Indeed whether a
widowed sister, as in the present case, has her own source of income or was not
a dependent upon the deceased is a matter to be established by adducing
appropriate proof. However, none of the Courts have adverted their attention to
this aspect of the matter, though the defence raised by the appellants has been
noticed. Thus we have no option but to set aside the decree passed by the trial
court as affirmed by the first appellate court and the High Court in second
appeal to the extent indicated above in so far it relates to direction for
payment of family pension.
appeal is thus allowed to the extent indicated above setting aside the decree
in so far as it relates to the direction to grant of family pension and in
other respects remains undisturbed and the matter is remitted to the trial
court for fresh consideration on the question as to whether the respondent is
dependent of the deceased employee so as to claim pension in terms of the rules
to which we have adverted to. Appeal is allowed in part. No costs.