Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Widow is first rightful candidate for family pension,The Principle Holds Good Even In Case Of Desertion

Even if a retired employee nominates other relatives for family pension, the benefits are to be given only to the widow, even if there is a case of desertion. The Gujarat high court has ruled this in a case involving a school teacher, who did not want his separated wife to obtain benefits of family pension.
Yasinmiya Malek was a teacher in Experimental High School in Vasna. After his retirement, he got retirement benefits. He passed away in November 2008, but before that he nominated his nephew Majiuddin and niece Khairunnisa to receive family pension after his death. He did not nominate his wife Abeda Khatun and eight children on the ground that they had deserted him.
A month after Malek’s death, his widow wrote to the school authorities claiming the benefits of family pension, and the school management accordingly forwarded the request to the director of pension and provident fund. The director refused to consider name of the widow on the ground that Malek had nominated only two persons, his nephew and niece.
On refusal from the pension & PF office, the widow moved the high court, but a single-judge bench rejected her claim over family pension because she was not nominated by her husband. Moreover, the court reminded her that her husband did not want to give any share or benefit to his wife.
She did not give up and filed an appeal, and a division bench of Justice V M Sahai and Justice G B Shah heard the case. It was contended on behalf of Abeda’s counsel that she had lived with her husband for 27 years before she left him with her eight children. Her marriage with Malek subsisted when he expired. Hence being his legally wedded wife, Abeda was the rightful candidate for availing family pension.
The bench cited Gujarat Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 2002, which describes family means wife in the case of a male government employee. Taking facts of the case into consideration, the judges observed that even though the husband and wife might be staying separately, the widow was entitled for family pension.
“The issue of desertion is never a criteria for granting and denying the family pension. For grant of family pension, the only consideration would be that the claimant ought to be legally wedded wife or husband of the pensioner and he/ she be alive on the date of death of the pensioner. Even if the pensioner has nominated third person excluding his wife, then also, the right of the legitimate wife/widow to claim family pension cannot be brushed aside,” the court observed and ordered the director of pension & provident fund to pay the amount to the widow instead of the nephew and niece.

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