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Punjab & Haryana High Court imposes 2 Lakh Cost on State for violating Right to Life

Punjab & Haryana High Court imposes 2 Lakh Cost on State for violating Right to Life

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has allowed a widow’s petition challenging the order withholding the family pension and pensionary benefits of her deceased husband, who was convicted in a criminal case during his service as a Junior Scale Stenographer in Punjab. 

The Single Bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri held that the pension and other benefits of the petitioner’s husband had been withheld without any justification and that the State had violated the petitioner’s constitutional, statutory, and human rights.

Case Brief:

In the said matter, the petitioner’s deceased husband worked as a Junior Scale Stenographer in the Office of Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab. He was convicted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment while he was still in service. Before his conviction, he had applied for premature retirement without disclosing the ongoing criminal proceedings against him. After his retirement, he applied for pensionary benefits, but they were withheld by the Office of the Accountant General, Punjab. He passed away four months later, and his widow sought to claim the retiral benefits and family pension.

The court observed that in case the pension is to be withheld, only 1/3rd of the pension amount could be withheld, and that too after giving an opportunity of hearing and also after getting sanction from the Punjab Service Commission.

 The court then noted that in the present case, the person was a dead person, and there was no question of giving any opportunity nor anything has been placed on record to show that any sanction was obtained from the Punjab Service Commission.

While explicating Rule 2.2(c) of the Punjab Civil Services Rules, the court noted that in the present case, “there was neither any departmental proceeding nor any judicial proceeding pending against the husband of the petitioner at the time when the impugned order was passed in 2019, and therefore, the pension or even the gratuity could not have been withheld even under the sub-rule (c) of Rule 2.2.”

Considering the facts of the case where the petitioner is a widow, and her husband had died eight years ago, the court said that “it is not only that Article 300-A has been violated, but even Article 21 of the Constitution of India has been infringed wherein the State has tried to take away the Right to Life of a widow.”

The court also observed that the husband of the petitioner had retired by passing of an order by the Registrar Cooperative Societies, Punjab and that no condition of any sort was put on the retirement. 

The court directed the state to grant the petitioner the pensionary benefits and family pension and fix the pension of the petitioner’s husband and, on the basis of the same, fix the family pension of the petitioner. 

The court also imposed a cost of INR 2 lakh on the state for violating the petitioner’s constitutional, statutory, and human rights.

Case title: Kaushalya Devi alias Kushaliya Devi vs State of Punjab and Others 

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