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HC declines to issue writ of mandamus on Govt. scheme for freedom fighters

Gauhati High Corut Kohima Bench

DIMAPUR, MAY 27: The Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court has ruled that a group of “freedom fighters and their beneficiaries in the State of Nagaland” ~ as projected in a PIL filed by Dr. Vekho Swuro, the Chairman of Kohima-based Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Memorial Development Society ~ do not fulfil the criteria for availing the benefits of Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana, a Central Scheme for grant of pension to freedom fighters and their families.
In a judgment and order delivered on May 22, a Bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi and Justice Budi Habung stated that Scheme requires fulfilment of the person claiming to be a freedom fighter in any of the 8 criteria: imprisonment, underground, externment, internment, loss of job/means of livelihood, loss of property-confiscation, permanent incapacitation and martyrdom.
“One of the applications which has been annexed to the writ petition would itself show that none of the 8 (eight) requirements are fulfilled by the members connected with this petition. There is no provision for payment of such pension for labourers or porters who had carried ration, clothing etc., to the INA temporary Camps. Therefore, the claim for pension under the aforesaid Scheme does not appear to have any substance”, the judgment read.
The PIL was filed in 2020 seeking a writ in the nature of mandamus/certiorari directing the respondent authorities for an order/direction/relief in the form of special status, recognition, pension benefits/family pension/arrears or one-time grant or a rehabilitation package/supplementary financial assist so as to enable the families to run small business or to undertake scientific farming, livestock or other land-based activities which can provide the families some assured and sustained earning; and allow the benefits of Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana, 2017-2020.
“Having said that, it is a different matter if either the State Government or the Central Government, in its discretion, takes up any Scheme to identify persons who had rendered their selfless service in the freedom struggle and give them adequate benefit. However, such action would be within the discretion and domain of the Government and cannot be a part of a writ of mandamus”, the Bench ruled.
During the hearing, the Court was also informed that Nagaland Government had recognised the sacrifice of the respective families who had a freedom fighter “by giving them a token amount in terms of a package”.
“Though the State Counsel has submitted that the objective of such package is not readily known to her, it can be assumed that if such package is meant for only those families who had a freedom fighter, the aforesaid factor may be taken into consideration if the appropriate authority, in its discretion, decides to have any other Scheme for giving the benefits to the families of those persons who had rendered their selfless service in the freedom struggle of the country”, the order stated.
(Page News Service)