MADURAI: Observing that widows of freedom fighters have become the unfortunate victims of red tapism, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court said the executive arm of the country ought to recognise the sacrifices and sufferings undergone by the freedom fighters to achieve independence. The court then directed the Union government to grant pension to freedom fighter M Muthaiya’s wife M Sornam of Thanjavur within three months.
Justice CV Karthikeyan observed this while hearing a petition filed by Sornam challenging the Union government’s rejection of her application seeking Freedom Fighters Pension in 2006. The petitioner submitted that her late husband Muthaiya served as a sepoy in the Indian National Army and was imprisoned in Burma from May 1945 to April 1946. Though the couple was a recipient of State Freedom Fighters Pension, Sornam’s application seeking a similar pension from the Union government was rejected in 2006.
The reason cited by the Freedom Fighter Revenue Division of the Union Home Ministry, for rejecting Sornam’s application, was that the period of imprisonment — May 1945 to December 1945 — mentioned in the co-prisoner certificate produced by another freedom fighter S Raju, in support of Muthiaya, did not match with the period mentioned in Muthiaya’s wife’s application.
Besides, the Union government counsel pointed out that Sornam failed to get the Non-Availability of Records Certificate (NARC) from the State government and she had approached the court after a delay of nearly 15 years. The State, through the Thanjavur Collector, also supported the Centre’s stand and sought dismissal of Sornam’s plea.
Rejecting the aforementioned reasons, Justice CV Karthikeyan pointed out that the co-prisoner Raju had vouched for Muthaiya only till December 1945 because Raju got released from jail in December. Moreover, the Union government authorities could have easily gotten a clarification from the State government regarding the NARC if they had shown a little understanding on the plight of the widows of freedom fighters, the judge added.
The authorities should realize that achieving independence required sacrifice and suffering of the freedom fighters, Justice Karthikeyan said. He expressed hope there would be an attitudinal change in the mindset of the officials. “Let Swaraj be given to these unfortunate victims who now suffer at the hands of the modern day bureaucrats,” the judge observed and directed the Centre to grant pension within three months.