Family pension to be paid to widow, not to mother, says Supreme...

Family pension to be paid to widow, not to mother, says Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court has held that pension of a deceased employee shall be payable only in accordance with the terms of the Pension Scheme and in no other way, not even by way of a will. In the case of Nitu v. Sheela Rani & Ors. a bench comprising of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice L. Nageswara Rao, held that as per the Family Pension Scheme, 1964 of the Government of Punjab, only the widow of the deceased is entitled to pension, the mother of the deceased or any other survivor is not entitled thereto.

In this case the mother of the deceased had filed a suit in the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Rohtak for getting a succession certificate so that she can get the pension payable in respect of the services rendered by her deceased son to the Government of Haryana. The Civil Judge dismissed the claim. She filed an appeal before the Court of Additional District Judge, Rohtak, which appeal was again dismissed. Being aggrieved by the above judgment, she filed a Civil Revision before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh.

The High Court allowed the Revision Petition and held that the mother was entitled to the succession certificate in view of the provisions of Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act as she was also one of the heirs of the deceased. The widow of the deceased has now come up before the Supreme Court being aggrieved by the order of the High Court.

The widow contended that she was the only person entitled to the pension, as pension is payable only in terms of the Scheme and family pension is not to be equated to other assets of the deceased and the Pension Scheme lays down that only the widow is entitled to family pension and none else. The mother of the deceased stated that she falls in the category of Class-I Heir and thus entitled to one-half share of the property of her deceased son. The State supported the claim of the widow, stating that the term ‘family’ as defined in the Pension Scheme includes only the widow, in case the deceased is a married person.

As per the Family Pension Scheme, family is defined as:

4(ii). “Family” for the purpose of this scheme includes the following relatives of the officer:- (a)wife, in the case of a male officer; (b)husband, in the case of a female officer; (c) minor sons; (d)unmarried minor daughters; (e) widowed/legally divorced daughters; and (f) the parents of an unmarried officer.

The Supreme Court thus held that there is no doubt that the mother of the deceased falls in the category of Class-I Heir in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, however the case with family pension is different as pension is to be given under the provisions of the Scheme and therefore, only the person who is entitled to get the pension as per the Scheme would get it. The Court referred to its previous decision in the case of Violet Issaac (Smt.) v. Union of India (1991) 1 SCC 725, wherein it was held that ‘family pension does not form part of the estate of the deceased and therefore, even an employee has no right to dispose of the same in his Will by giving a direction that someone other than the one who is entitled to it, should be given the same

The Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court and ordered the entire pension to be payable to the appellant widow and observed as follows:

In the instant case, as per the provisions of the Scheme, the appellant widow is the only family member who is entitled to the pension and therefore, the respondent mother would not get any right in the pension. Of course, it cannot be disputed that if there are other assets left by late Shri Yash Pal, the respondent mother would get 50% share, if late Shri Yash Pal had not prepared any Will and it appears that late Shri Yash Pal had died intestate and no Will had been executed by him.

Read the full judgment by clicking here.

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