The Madurai bench of Madras High Court told the Government to adopt a pragmatic approach in identifying the freedom fighters to award them pension.
Justice K Ravichandrabaabu directed the collector of Madurai to consider the claim of M Ponniah for Freedom Fighters Pension and pass necessary orders within a period of four weeks, taking note of the fact that the petitioner is already aged about 88 years.
“The Government might have framed a scheme and had issued certain guidelines, it cannot be said that they are inscrutable like a scripture. On the other hand, the Government must be pragmatic in such matters,” the judge added.
The Judge also condemned the district collector for depending on two freedom fighters - Laxshmanan and A C Periyasamy of Madurai District - for identifying the beneficiaries for the State Government Freedom Fighters Pension Scheme, instead of seeking other material evidence.
Ponniah in his writ petition said that the British police had arrested him for participating in various movements during the freedom struggle since 1942. He was imprisoned from April 16, 1943 to September 23, 1943 at Palayamkottai Central Prison.
On September 27, 2008 Ponniah applied for pension to the Madurai district collector with documents certificating his participation in the freedom struggle by freedom fighters Mayandi Bharathi and A C Periyasamy, who were also his co-prisoners.
However the district administration rejected his application on the ground that his document was not certified by freedom fighter Laxshmanan. While directing the district administration to pay the pension amount to Ponniah with 12 per cent interest from 2008, the date of his application, Justice K Ravichandrabaabu said
“I failed to understand as to how the District Collector is justified in insisting upon the petitioner to produce co-prisoners’ certificate only from those two named persons...”
Further Justice Ravichandrabaabu said, “It is impossible that those two individuals alone will be knowing all the freedom fighters who were incarcerated at the relevant time... At this stage of their life, it will be impossible for them to recognise the names of every individual.”