Divorced Daughter Entitled To Samman Pension: HC

The Calcutta High Court, in a recent judgment, said a freedom fighter’s widowed or divorced daughter is entitled to his pension and exclusion is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Article 14 in the Constitution of India

  • Equality before Law: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya said that with no independent source of income, widowed or divorced daughters stand on an equal footing with an unmarried daughter as heirs to the deceased freedom fighter. “The marital status of all of them is ‘unmarried’. Thus, the criterion of exclusion of widowed/divorced daughters, as sought to be projected by respondent no.1, is untenable in the eye of law”.
  • Under Clause 5.2.5 of the guidelines of disbursement of Central Samman Pension a “widowed/divorced daughter is not eligible for samman pensions”. The clause points out that in order to transfer the pension to the spouse or daughter, a twin condition has to be fulfilled i.e. being unmarried and having no independent source of income.
  • The court, in its order, said the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs were violative of Article 14 after observing that the “blanket exclusion of widowed/ divorced daughters, including even those who do not have any personal income in lieu of maintenance or otherwise, is patently de hors Article 14, which enshrines the guarantee to all citizens of India.”
  • Thus, as in the event an unmarried daughter who has no income is ineligible for the pension, widowed/divorced daughters stand on a similar footing as daughters of the deceased and shall not be eligible anyway if they have any independent source of income, which can very well be alimony or maintenance as well.