KOCHI: Her marriage, in 1974, lasted just three days and an unemployed Saraswati was forced to depend on her parents. But a procedural technicality landed her in the soup. Saraswati secured legal divorce after the death of her parents which made her ineligible for her ex-serviceman father’s family pension. After an eight-year-long legal battle, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) came to the rescue of Saraswati. It held that the 66-year-old Eruvatty, Kannur, resident was entitled to receive the pension from the date of her mother’s death -- on August 9, 2015.
Saraswati’s counsel submitted that although she had produced a non-re-marriage certificate issued by the village office, the government insisted on a divorce deed. In 2017, she approached the Thalassery family court seeking a divorce, which was sanctioned a year later. However, the Allahabad senior accounts officer returned her claim stating that the divorce proceedings were not instituted before the court during the lifetime of her parents. The officer followed this up with a communication saying that the case for family pension is treated as closed. She moved the AFT seeking to quash the order.
Advocate G Krishna Kumar argued that there is no justification for excluding such daughters from the purview of family pension for the sole reason that they had obtained the decree dissolving their marriage after the death of their parents.
The regional AFT bench held that the mandate that the decree of divorce should be obtained during the lifetime of at least one of the parents is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
The date of the institution of divorce proceedings by a daughter cannot determine her dependency on her parents, it said.The bench directed that the pension be granted to Saraswati within four months.
Meanwhile, the central government’s counsel requested for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. But the bench denied the request, stating that no question of law of general public importance is involved in the matter.
APPEAL TO APEX COURT
The central government’s counsel requested for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. But the bench denied the request, stating that no question of law of general public importance is involved in the matter