September 30, 2019 10:45 PM

Chandigarh (Subhash Jindal)

‘It is unconscionable and undue enrichment on the part of BBMB to recover amount of special family pension with 12% simple interest from widow of employee dying in harness, in lieu of grant of compassionate appointment to her daughter, says Punjab and Haryana High Court order.

  Goldi Devi, widow of Tilk Raj, Electrician Grade-I, had been getting special family pension from 27.7.2010 (when her husband died in harness) ) ; she also got solatium amount of Rs.3 lakh, from Bakhra Bias Management Board (BBMB), as there was no scheme for giving compassionate appointment in BBMB at that point of time. Later on however, in May, 2014, BBMB introduced a scheme for grant of compassionate appointment, with effect from 16.4.2010, and offered compassionate appointment to Goldi Devi (present petitioner) for her daughter, Ravita, as a Clerk, on the condition that she would pay back entire arrears of special family pension, and also the amount of solatium, along with interest at the rate of 12% simple. Goldi Devi accordingly paid an amount of Rs.13.29 lakh towards special family pension arrears plus interest; she also coughed up an amount of Rs.3.54 lakh towards solatium plus interest, pursuant to which Ravita was appointed as Clerk on 5.1.2015.

They subsequently filed a Civil Writ Petition in 2016 against BBMB for recovery of amount of special family pension, solatium and also interest paid thereon by them. High Court Bench comprising Justice Arun Monga, in his judgment dated August 20th, 2019, which has seen light of the day on HC website only this morning, has directed the BBMB to refund the amount of Rs.13.29 lakh along with interest at 12 percent simple from 26th April, 2015 till the date of actual payment thereof to petitioners. HC Bench has held that it is unconscionable on part of BBMB to recover special family pension already received and spent by the dependents of a deceased employee.

It is exploitation of widow/dependents, who had to beg, borrow or steal for repaying such an amount. Such an agreement is not binding on widow/dependents.

They are not estopped from challenging it. A widow who had already spent special family pension on bringing up her children, and on their education or other needs, should not have been told suddenly on one fine morning after 5 years, that she has to refund the entire amount of family pension, and that too, with 12% interest per annum, more so when the compassionate appointment had been given to her daughter with prospective effect from 5.1.2015, and not from 2.7.2010 ,i.e., from the date Goldi Devi started getting special family pension.

HC Bench however, did not order refund of solatium amount, and left the said matter open for deciding in some other case, said Mr. H.C. Arora, Coundel of petitionerd. 

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