After a 15-year legal tussle, a 87-year-old freedom fighter is now close to realising his pension after the Madras High Court directed the State government take steps to grant it to him with in four weeks.
In his order, Justice K Ravichandrabaabu expressed concern that the petitioner N Subramaniam, who fought for the country’s freedom, now has to fight for his pension at such an old age.
“Authorities should realise that it is not a charity that is extended by the government to these persons by granting them pension. It is the bound duty of the government to confer an honour on them without loss of time. The State government is directed to issue Freedom Fighters Pension to the petitioner from the date of his application within a period of four weeks,” the Judge said.
Interestingly, Subramaniam, who had joined the freedom struggle by enrolling in Indian Independence League in 1944 in the Dallah Branch, Rangoon, Burma, under the chairaman V A Rangasamy, applied for pension on April, 1998.
The petitioner stated that he had participated in various struggles relating to freedom movement during the year 1944-45 and was also arrested by the British force and tried by Allied Marshal Court and imprisoned in Rangoon Central Jail for a period of six months.
He made an application in the prescribed format in April 1998 by enclosing a certificate issued by his co-prisoner M Subramani.Even an identity certificate by one Sevathiyan was enclosed and state president of TN INA Forum P K Servai issued a personal knowledge certificate stating that he had been a member of India Independence League and participated in the freedom struggle. The general secretary of INA Committee also issued a certificate backing his antecedents.
The government rejected the application stating that the personal knowledge certificate issued by secretary of TN Indian National Army Forum is not issued on document support and the genuiness of certificate issued by the secretary All India INA could not be verified. On April 2013, the petitioner’s claim was again rejected on the grounds that the records furnished were not in consonance with the rules and no new materials were filed.
The court observed that once the genuineness of the certificate is not in doubt, then the contents of the certificate has to be taken as true, in the absence of any contradictory material available before the state.
“Mere technical objections should not stand in the way of disbursing pension to freedom fighters. It appears the State government has chosen to search for reasons to reject the request of the petitioner. It is nothing but a pedantic approach when the authorities are expected to have a pragmatic one while considering such cases,” the court observed.