1994 ALLMR ONLINE 823

B.N. DESHMUKH AND S.S. DANI, JJ.

BHALCHANDRA TRIMBAKRAO VAIDYA Vs. UNION OF INDIA

W. P. No. 2645 of 1994

14th September, 1994

Petitioner Counsel: Vivek Dhage
Respondent Counsel: R. G. Deo, V. G. Gangapurwala

Freedom Fighters Pension Scheme, , State Government Resolution Dated 5-9-1992,,

JUDGMENT

B. N. DESHMUKH, J. :- Rule returnable forthwith. Heard Counsel for the parties.

2. This petition is filed as the claim of the Petitioner for freedom fighter's pension is rejected on the ground of age of the Petitioner not being in conformity with the scheme for grant of pension to freedom fighters formulated by the State Government.

3. The Government Resolution dated 5th September 1992 is produced before us, and, insofar as the age is concerned, it mentions as follows :

"vtZnkjkps o; dehr deh 16 oÔkZps vlkos".

4. As, according to the authorities, the Petitioner was less than 16 years of age when he participated in the Freedom Movement, he is not entitled for the pension, and, therefore, the claim is rejected.

5. The Counsel for the Petitioner contends that the rejection of the claim on the ground of age is not reasonable and also is not in conformity with the scheme. He further contended that if the provision of the said Resolution is properly followed, the age mentioned in the Resolution relates to the age at the time of making of an application and not at the time of participation in the Freedom Movement.

6. Shri Deo, learned Standing Counsel for the Union of India, made available to us the Scheme for grant of Freedom Fighters' Pension formulated by the Central Government, wherein eligibility is mentioned under the heading "WHO IS ELIGIBLE." The criterion of age is not mentioned in the scheme of the Central Government. It can, therefore, be gathered that irrespective of age, even a person below the age of 16 years at the time of participation in the freedom movement, is entitled for the freedom fighters' pension under the Central Government scheme.

7. We have gone through the concerned Resolution of the State Government and we feel that the interpretation of the authorities in respect of age is uncalled for. There is nothing to indicate that the age mentioned relates to the age at the time of participation in the freedom movement and not at the time of making an application for pension. The plain meaning which can be attributed to the words mentioned in the Resolution indicates that the age of the person shall not be below 16 years at the time of making of the application, and, it has nothing to do with the age at the time of participation in the freedom movement. Merely because a person below 16 years of age has participated in the freedom movement, on the basis of age there cannot be discrimination made in the matter of granting pension to such person. The intention of the framers of the scheme will have to be gathered having regard to the nexus with the object sought to be achieved for granting pension to the freedom fighters. Age cannot be the criterion for granting of such a pension. It is also common knowledge that several persons below 16 years of age had participated in the Freedom Movement and are also receiving the Central Government pension. The interpretation of the provision relating to age placed by the authorities in this context is quite irrational and unreasonable, having regard to the object sought to be achieved of granting pension to the persons who participated in the Freedom Movement. There is no scope to hold otherwise having regard to the scheme of Central Government with respect to the same subject-matter, namely, granting pension to the freedom fighters. To hold otherwise would create an anomaly. While a person below 16 years of age will be able to get pension from the Central Government, but will be denied the fruits of the pension under the State Government scheme.

8. We, therefore, hold that the persons, below 16 years of age at the time of their participation in the Freedom Movement cannot be denied the benefit of Freedom Fighter's pension under the Scheme of the State Government on the ground of age.

9. We, therefore, set aside the order dated 6th November 1990 (Exhibit P-9) passed by the authorities denying pension to the Petitioner. We direct the authorities of the State Government to grant provisional pension at the rate of Rs. 750/- per month and, if they so desire, reconsider the claim of the Petitioner on the basis of merits, other than age criterion.

10. In the petition, the claim is also made for the freedom fighter's pension under the Central Government scheme. It seems that the Petitioner has not made any application so far to the authorities of the Central Government. If the Petitioner so desires to have freedom fighter's pension under the Central Government scheme, he may make an application, which the authorities of the Central Government will consider on the basis of merits.

11. A copy of this Judgment shall be forwarded by the Office to the Secretary, General Administration Department, Government of Maharashtra, and also to the Secretary, Law and Judiciary Department, to enable them to advise the concerned authorities accordingly.

12. Rule made absolute in the above terms. No order as to costs.

Rule made absolute.