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Kerala High Court: A Landmark Ruling Upholding Gender Equality in Freedom Fighters Pension

Neena T V/S State Of Kerala And Ors. [WP(C) NO. 40155 OF 2022]

The single judge bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran said that even assuming that the brothers remain unmarried, it would be of no consequence because the hypothesis now drawn by the Government, that she would be taken care of forever by them solely because she is their sister and therefore, expected to be depended upon them, can certainly not be countenanced by this Court in this age and era. 

The petitioner called into question order of the Government, whereby, her request for grant of Freedom Fighters Pension, on account of the fact that she is a dependent divorced daughter of late T.Achuthan, has been rejected solely on the ground that two of her brothers are well to do and that they will take care of her. 

The petitioner asserted that the conclusions in Ext.P5 are conjectural as it can ever be, because there can be no justifiable assumption drawn that brothers are always expected to take care of their sisters, particularly when they have their own families to take care of.

P.S.Appu, Government Pleader, however, rose in support of the order of the Government, saying that an inquiry was conducted by the District Collector and it was found that the petitioner’s brothers are all well placed and are earning well. 

He submitted that, therefore, it was justified for the Government to have presumed that they would take care of the petitioner.

“I am afraid that the afore submissions of the learned Government Pleader – which are also reflected in Ext.P5 – smack archaic patriarchal notions. Merely because the petitioner has two brothers, an automatic assumption drawn that she would be taken care of by them for her life, can only be seen to be one solely on account of the afore notions and nothing else”, the court said. 

The single bench observed that the ambit of Rule 11A of the Kerala Freedom Fighters Pension Rules, 1971 is unmistakable because, only in the “most deserving cases” can the benefit sought for by the petitioner be granted. This is a pure question of fact, which will have to be assessed on the edifice of all the relevant aspects, without relying upon conjectures and surmises, solely on the basis that the petitioner has two brothers.

The bench directed the government to reconsider the claim of the petitioner, adverting to the Report of the District Collector, after affording her an opportunity of being heard.

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