The Supreme Court observed that the pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme can be sanctioned as per the proof required under the scheme and in no other manner.
When the claim is under a particular pension scheme, unless one fulfills the eligibility criteria for grant of pension, as mentioned in the scheme, no applicant can claim such pensions, as a matter of right, the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy observed while setting aside the Madras High Court direction to grant Freedom Fighter's Pension to A. Alagam Perumal Kone under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme.
Kone had filed application for grant of pension under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme on 10.04.1997 which was rejected by the authority in the year 2004. Thereafter, on 29.08.2017, he again sent an application for grant of pension from 2011 under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, stating that he was imprisoned for more than six months from 05.01.1944 to 05.07.1944 during Quit India Movement. While this application was pending, he also moved the Madras High Court.
The High Court, by recording a finding that the certificate issued by an approved certifier is sufficient for grant of pension, disposed of the petition by directing the Centre to grant pension under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme and to pass suitable orders. Aggrieved with this, the Centre approached the Apex Court.
The Apex court observed that the High Court ought not to have disposed of the petition without even issuing notice and giving opportunity to file counter affidavit to rebut the allegations made by the writ petitioner.
"As regards the sufficiency of proof, the scheme itself mentions the documents which are required to be produced along with the application. Whether the claimant fulfills the criteria or not, it is for the competent authority to examine it. Even before the application is considered by the competent authority, in exercise of powers of judicial review, the High Court should not have issued any directions for grant of pension", the bench observed.
The court noted that, in the case of W.B.Freedom Fighters' Organization v. Union of India, it was held that when the competent committee has considered and opined that the applications were not supported by required documents and rejected the application, the Court cannot interfere with the same and such findings cannot be said to be perverse or unreasonable. Further, in the case of Union of India vs. Bikash R. Bhowmik and Others, this Court has held that the pension under Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme of 1980 can be sanctioned as per the proof required under the scheme and in no other manner, the bench said. While allowing the appeal, the court observed:
It may be true that the 1st Respondent is getting pension as per the scheme, mooted by the State, but, at the same time, to claim pension under the scheme of 1980, the 1st Respondent has to furnish the required proof as contemplated under the scheme. When the claim is under a particular scheme, unless one fulfills the eligibility criteria for grant of pension, as mentioned in the scheme, no applicant can claim such pensions, as a matter of right. Whether a particular applicant is entitled for pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme of 1980, is a matter which is required to be considered having regard to facts and documentary evidence produced in each case.
Case: Union of India vs. A. Alagam Perumal Kone [CIVIL APPEAL NO.680 OF 2021]Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash ReddyCitation: LL 2021 SC 107