Government Of India vs Sitakant S. Dubhashi on 11 February, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Government Of India vs Sitakant S. Dubhashi on 11 February, 2020

Author: Ashok Bhushan

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, Navin Sinha

                                                                       REPORTABLE

                                      IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                       CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.987 OF 2020
                              (arising out of SLP (C) No. 27297 of 2017)


                         GOVERNMENT OF INDIA & ORS.             ...APPELLANT(S)

                                                    VERSUS

                         SITAKANT S. DUBHASHI & ANR.          ...RESPONDENT(S)



                                              J U D G M E N T

ASHOK BHUSHAN, J.

1. This appeal has been filed against judgment

of High Court of Bombay at Goa at Panaji dated

20.03.2017 allowing the writ petition filed by

respondent No.1. The writ petition was filed by

respondent No.1 challenging the notification dated

17.02.2003 issued by Government of India as well

as orders dated 16.11.2009 and 13.11.2014 issued

by the Government of India rejecting the claim of
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
ARJUN BISHT
respondent No.1 for pension under Swatantrata
Date: 2020.02.11
15:21:16 IST
Reason:

Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980.

P a g e 1 | 37

2. Brief facts of this case for deciding this

appeal are: –

2.1. The Government of India has introduced

Freedom Fighters Pension Scheme, 1972.

With certain modifications, the scheme was

renamed as Swatantrata Sainik Samman

Pension Scheme, 1980 (hereinafter

referred to as “SSSP Scheme, 1980”). For

grant of pension under the SSSP Scheme,

1980, there were eligibility conditions.

The freedom fighters having suffered

minimum imprisonment of six months were

eligible for benefit of the Scheme. The

Government of India decided to extend the

SSSP Scheme to the participants of Goa

Liberation Movement who fulfilled the

eligibility conditions under SSSP Scheme.

The respondent had made an application to

the Government of India for grant of SSSP

Scheme on 19.03.1982. The respondent No.1

was informed by the Government of India in

the year 1985 that his case having not

P a g e 2 | 37
recommended by the State he is not

entitled for SSS Pension. The Government

of India received representation from

various quarters for grant of pension to

all the participants of Goa Liberation

Movement particularly to those who

participated in the second phase of the

movement (1954-55). The Government of

India decided to grant freedom fighter

pension to participants of Goa liberation

Movement Phase-II (1954-55) under SSSP

Scheme, 1980 by Government Order dated

17.02.2003.

2.2. After liberation of Goa in 1961, the State

of Goa has initially framed Goa, Daman &

Diu freedom fighters welfare Rules, 1973.

In supersession of 1973 Rules, the State

framed the Goa freedom fighter’s welfare

rules, 1988. Freedom fighters were defined

in Rule 2.

P a g e 3 | 37
2.3. The respondent had made an application for

State pension by application dated

28.07.2001. On the application of the

respondent, the Government of Goa asked

for reports from Inspector General of

Police which was submitted by Deputy

Inspector General of Police dated

09.05.2002 opining that name of the

respondent No.1 is not figuring in the

freedom fighters register. The

application of respondent No.1 was

considered by the Government and the

application of respondent No.1 for grant

of State Pension was rejected on

18.12.2002.

2.4 The respondent No.1 made an application

dated 15.04.2003 for grant of pension

under the SSSP Scheme, 1980 for Freedom

Fighters of Goa Liberation Movement Phase–

II (1954-55). The State of Goa wrote a

letter dated 13.02.2004 to the respondent

P a g e 4 | 37
No.1 that copy of Samman Pension order

cannot be issued to him since his case has

not been approved so far. The respondent

No.1 was, however, informed that his

application for State pension will be

placed before the Committee for further

action. The Committee constituted by State

of Goa to consider the cases for grant of

State pension considered the case of

respondent No.1 and by proceeding dated

23.07.2004 opined to reject the claim.

2.5. In pursuance of announcement of State of

Goa for re-opening of Freedom Fighters

Scheme in 2003, the claim of large number

of persons were entrusted to a Committee

constituted under the Chairmanship of

Chief Secretary. After several

deliberations ultimately a list of 22

persons was approved on 26.12.2007 for

State pension in which respondent No.1 was

also included. On 26.12.2007, the name of

P a g e 5 | 37
respondent No.1 was approved for grant of

State Pension and consequently, a pension

payment order was issued on 11.03.2008 to

respondent No.1 for grant of State Pension

w.e.f. 01.12.2007. After receipt of State

Pension, the respondent No.1 sent a

representation dated 06.08.2009 to the

Government of India for grant of SSS

Pension from the Government of India. The

Government of India vide letter dated

16.11.2009 communicated respondent No.1

that case of respondent No.1 has been

examined and it is found that respondent

No.1 has been granted State Pension in

2008 only, hence, he was ineligible for

grant of SSS Pension under the relaxed

criteria for Goa Liberation Movement

Phase-II. The respondent No.1 was

communicated that participants who were in

receipt of State Pension by 01.08.2002 are

only eligible. On a further representation

by respondent No.1, again a similar

P a g e 6 | 37
communication was sent by the Government

of India to respondent No.1 dated

13.11.2014.

2.6. The respondent No.1 filed a writ petition

No.229 of 2016 in the High Court of

Bombay, Goa at Panaji, praying for

following relief:

“A. Declaration that the decision
of Government of India dated
4/2/03 and the notification dated
17/2/03 to the extent it
restricts the entitlement of
pension to freedom fighter
participants of Goa Liberation
Movement Phase II who were in
receipt of pension as on
1/08/2002 is arbitrary null and
void being violative of Article
14
of Constitution of India and
for a declaration that freedom
fighters recognized by the
Government of Goa and in receipt
of State Government pension
notwithstanding the date being
later than 1/08/02 are entitled
to pension.

B. Writ of mandamus, writ in the
nature of mandamus directing the
respondent to consider the
application of petitioner for
grant of pension under the
Swatantrata Sainik Sanman
Pension Scheme 1980 Goa

P a g e 7 | 37
Liberation Movement Phase-II
(1954-55).

C. For writ of certiorari, a writ
in the nature of certiorari or
any other writ direction and
other quashing and setting aside
Communication dated 16/11/09 and
13/11/2014 passed by the Ministry
of Home Affairs.”

2.7. The appellant could not file any reply to

the writ petition nor case of the

respondent No.1 was specifically denied.

The High Court after hearing the parties

allowed the writ petition and directed the

appellant to grant the pension under SSSP

Scheme to the respondent No.1 w.e.f.

11.03.2008. The Government of India

aggrieved by the said judgment has come up

with this appeal. A Counter affidavit has

been filed by respondent No.1 as well as

respondent No.2, the State of Goa. The

Government of India has filed an

additional affidavit dated 02.12.2019. A

rejoinder affidavit has also been filed by

the appellant.

P a g e 8 | 37

3. We have heard Shri Vikramjit Banerjee, ASG for

appellant, Mrs. Mugdha Pande has been heard for

respondent No.1 and Shri Pratap Venugopal has

appeared for State of Goa.

4. Learned counsel for the appellant submits that

to the participants of Goa Liberation Movement,

Phase-II, the SSSP scheme was extended with the

conditions that only those applicants shall be

eligible to receive the benefits of the scheme who

are in receipt of State Pension on 01.08.2002. It

is submitted that issue of fixation of date was

deliberated and consciously included in the scheme

which is apparent from relevant noting brought on

record along with the additional affidavit.

5. It is submitted that the respondent No.1 has

been granted State Pension on 11.03.2008 only and

he did not fulfil the condition of the scheme which

was introduced by the Government Order dated

17.02.2003. The Government of India did not commit

an error in rejecting the claim of the respondent

P a g e 9 | 37
No.1. High Court has erred in holding that cut-off

date 01.08.2002 has no relevance. It is further

submitted that High Court committed error in

allowing the writ petition of respondent No.1 who

did not fulfil the eligibility for grant of SSSP

Scheme.

6. Counsel appearing for respondent No.1, Ms.

Mugdha Pande, vehemently refuting the submission

of Counsel for the appellant contends that the

respondent No.1 had been issued Identity Card of

freedom fighter in the year 1984 and he had made

an application for grant of State Pension on

28.07.2001 which although was rejected in December

2002 but subsequently State itself having granted

pension w.e.f. 01.12.2007, the respondent No.1 is

eligible for grant of SSS Pension.

7. It is submitted that there is no rationale for

fixing cut-off date 01.08.2002 for grant of SSS

Pension to participants of Goa Liberation

Movement, Phase-II and there is no nexus with

P a g e 10 | 37
object sought to be achieved. All freedom fighters

who are in receipt of State Pension are eligible

to SSSP Scheme.

8. Learned counsel appearing for State of Goa

submitted that claim of respondent No.1 for grant

of State Pension was rejected in December 2002

after due enquiry and after obtaining the report

from the Deputy Inspector General of Police and

other authorities. Learned counsel for the state

of Goa has also produced the original records

pertaining to claim of state pension by respondent

No.1 which contains the application made by

respondent No.1 in the year 2001. The reports

obtained on the said application and decision,

rejecting the claim. The record also contains the

subsequent application of respondent No.1 after

reopening of the State Pension Scheme in year 2003

and approval of grant of pension to twenty-two

freedom fighters which included the name of

respondent No.1 also w.e.f.01.12.2007.

P a g e 11 | 37

9. We have considered the submissions of learned

counsel for the parties and perused the record.

10. The issue to be considered in the appeal is as

to whether the respondent No.1 was entitled for

grant of SSS Pension as per the scheme dated

17.02.2003 of the Government of India and whether

the High Court had taken correct decision in

allowing the writ petition of respondent No.1 and

further as to whether cut-off date as fixed in the

Government Order dated 17.02.2003 that applicant

should be in receipt of State Pension by 01.08.2002

is a valid condition.

11. For grant of State Pension, the State of Goa

has framed Rules in the year 1973 and 1988. Goa

freedom fighter’s welfare Rules, 1988 contains the

eligibility for grant of freedom fighters’ pension

to persons who participated in National Liberation

Movement or Liberation of Goa. Rule 2 is a

definition clause, Rule 2(1) defined freedom

fighters which is to the following effect: –

P a g e 12 | 37
“2(I). “Freedom Fighter” means any
person who on account of participation
in National Liberation Movement or
liberation of Goa, had undergone the
sufferings listed below:

(a) He/she had been sentenced to
imprisonment for not less than 15
days: or

(b) He/she was had suffered
imprisonment for not less than 15
days (including detention as
under trial prisoner; or as
prisoner in police custody for
interrogation)

(c) He/she was killed in action;
or

(d) He/she was sentenced to
death; or

(e) He/she died due to police or
military firing or lathi charge
or hit by any instruments; or

(f) He/she died after release
from Portuguese prison or Custody
provided that the death is
directly attributable to ill
treatment/brutalities/torture
meted out to him/her during
detention or

(g) He/she lost his/her job or
means of livelihood or the whole
or substantial part of his/her
property due to such
participation, dismissal or
removal from Government
service/semi-Government
Organisation /educational

P a g e 13 | 37
institution any other registered
body duly supported by the record
of the said body; or

(h) He/she had gone underground
for not less than one year but
did not suffer imprisonment if
he/she was declared by the
Portuguese authorities as
proclaimed offender or a warrant
of arrest was issued against
him/her by the Portuguese or an
order of detention was issued
against him/her by the
Portuguese; or

(i) He/she became permanently
incapacitated on account of
participation in the liberation
movement;”

12. Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme,

1980, is a scheme of Central Government for grant

of pension for those who participated in freedom

movement of the country. Paragraph 3 of the SSSP

Scheme, 1980 provides for who is eligible, which

is to the following effect: –

“3. WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

For the purpose of grant of Samman
pension under the scheme, a freedom
fighter is: –

(a) A person who had suffered a
minimum imprisonment of six
months in the mainland jails

P a g e 14 | 37
before Independence. However,
ex-INA personnel will be
eligible for pension if the
imprisonment/detention
suffered by them was outside
India. The minimum period of
actual imprisonment for
eligibility of pension has
been reduced to three months,
in case of women and SC/ST
freedom fighters from
01.08.1980.


    EXPLANATION

    1.   Detention   under   the
         orders of the competent
         authority     will   be
         considered           as
         imprisonment.

    2.   Period     of     normal
         remission up to one
         month will be treated as
         part      of      actual
         imprisonment.

    3.   In the case of a trial
         ending in conviction,
         under trial period will
         be    counted    towards
         actual      imprisonment
         suffered.

    4.   Broken     period      of
         imprisonment   will    be
         totalled     up       for
         computing             the
         qualifying period.

(b) A    person   who    remained

underground for more than six
months provided he was:

P a g e 15 | 37

1. a proclaimed offender; or

2. one on whom an award for
arrest/head was announced;

or

3. one for whose detention
order was issued but not
served.

(c) A person interned in his home
or externed from his district
provided the period of
internment/externment was six
months or more.

(d) A person whose property was
confiscated or attached and
sold due to participation in
the freedom struggle.

(e) A    person     who    became
    permanently     incapacitated
    during   firing    or   lathi
    charge.

(f) A person who lost his job

(Central or State Government)
and thus means of livelihood
for participation in national
movement.

A MARTYR is a person who died
or who was killed in action or in
detention or was awarded capital
punishment while participation in
a National Movement for
emancipation of India. It will
include an ex-INA or ex-Military
person who died fighting the
British.”

P a g e 16 | 37

13. The eligibility under the SSSP Scheme, 1980

is, thus, entirely different from the

eligibilities for grant of pension under the Goa

Rules, 1973 and 1988. The applicability of SSSP

Scheme, 1980 was also extended to other movements

apart from mainstream of the liberation struggle

of the country. Paragraph 4 of the SSSP Scheme,

1980 deals with “What are the movements/mutinies

connected with National Freedom Struggle”, which

is to the following effect: –

“WHAT ARE THE MOVEMENTS/MUTINIES
CONNECTED WITH NATIONAL FREEDOM
STRUGGLE

4. Apart from the mainstream of the
liberation struggle the
movements/mutinies which were
directed against the British (French
in case of Pondicherry and
Portuguese in case of Goa) with
freedom of the country as its
ultimate goal are also treated as
part of National Freedom Struggle
for the purpose of grant of pension
unless any movement(s) is
specifically decided as not
qualifying for the grant of Samman
pension.

The Movements for merger of
erstwhile Princely States within the
Indian Union after 15th August, 1947

P a g e 17 | 37
and the freedom struggle in the
former French and Portuguese
possession in India (Colonies) are
considered as part of the National
Freedom Movement for the purpose of
grant of Samman Pension under
Scheme.”

14. Thus, movements/mutinies, which were directed

with regard to Portuguese in case of Goa was also

covered by the said SSSP Scheme. Thus, Freedom

Fighters of the Goa, who were eligible according

to the SSSP Scheme, 1980 were also eligible to

apply for SSSP Scheme, 1980. The respondent No.1

himself had applied for grant of SSS Pension

Scheme, 1980 in the year 1982 itself as noted

above.

15. Although, Goa Freedom Fighters, who fulfil the

conditions under SSSP Scheme, 1980 were eligible

for grant of pension, the Representations were

received from various quarters for grant of pension

to all the participants of Goa Liberation Movement

particularly to those, who participated in second

phase of movement (1954-55), which issue was under

P a g e 18 | 37
examination by the Home Ministry. The letter dated

19.08.2002 written to the Chief Secretary of

Government of Maharashtra/Rajasthan/Haryana/Goa/

Madhya Pradesh/Uttar Pradesh clearly mentions the

above fact, which is to the following effect:-

“No.8/10/99-FF(P)
Government of India/Bharat Sarkar
Ministry of Home Affairs/Girh
Mantralaya
Freedom Fighters Division
****
Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market,
Date, New Delhi, the 19 August,2002.

To
The Chief Secretary,
Government of
Maharashtra/Rajasthan/Haryana/Goa/
Madhya Pradesh/Uttar Pradesh.

Subject: – Grant of Freedom Fighters
Pension to the participants of
Goa Liberation Movement under
the “Swatantrata Sainik Samman
Pension Scheme, 1980”
******
Sir,

I am directed to say that the
participants of Goa Liberation Movement
who fulfilled the eligibility criteria
of “Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension
Scheme, 1980” have been sanctioned
freedom fighters’ pension by the Central
Government. However, representations/
requests have been received from various
P a g e 19 | 37
quarters including VIPs for grant of
pension to all the participants of Goa
Liberation Movement particularly to
those who participated in the Second
phase of the Movement (1954-55). This
issue is under examination of this
Ministry for quite a long time.

2. You may be aware that the Second
phase of the Movement was organized in
1954-55. It is said that Portuguese
Military authorities shot dead various
Satyagrahis including some batch
leaders and a large number of
participants were physically pushed
back into the adjoining territories.
Thus, the participants of this Movement
were never arrested, tried and punished
by the Portuguese Government and/or by
the Martial Law Court but physically
thrown back out of Goa. There is no
authenticated record as to how many
Satyagrahis were thrown back primarily
because no such records were maintained.
In the absence of any records of the
sufferings of die participants, they
could not be sanctioned FF pension as
they do not fulfil the eligibility
criteria laid down under the Scheme.

3. Ministry of Home Affairs is
considering that the eligibility
criteria may be relaxed to provide
pension under the “SSSP Scheme,1980” to
the freedom fighters of Goa Liberation
Movement, Phase II (1954-55) who have
already been sanctioned pension by the
State Government by 1.8.2002. To examine
this proposal further, it is requested
that the authenticated list of all those

P a g e 20 | 37
freedom fighters (indicating details of
their names, father’s name, addresses
and date of sanction of pension by the
State Government) who have been
sanctioned freedom fighters pension by
State Government up to 1.8.2002 for
their taking part in the above Movement,
may be sent to the Ministry of Home
Affairs (Freedom Fighters Division)
urgently so that the proposal may be
processed further.

Yours faithfully,

(Abdul Rashid)
Deputy Secretary to the Govt. of India”

16. The Central Government after examining the

representations received from various quarters

decided to extend the SSSP Scheme, 1980 to the

participants of Goa Liberation Movement.

17. The SSSP Scheme has been extended by relaxing

the conditions contained therein to the

participants of Goa Liberation Movement, Phase-II

(1954-55) by Government Order dated 17.02.2003.

Paragraph 1 of the scheme is as follows: –

“1. I am directed to refer to this
Ministry’s letter of even number dated
16th/19th August, 2002 on the above
subject and to inform you that it has
P a g e 21 | 37
now been decided to grant central
pension to the participants of 2nd Phase
of Goa Liberation movement (1954-55) who
have been granted freedom fighters
pension by the State Government by 1st
August, 2002, by relaxing the
eligibility criteria under the
Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension
Scheme, 1980.”

18. The Scheme dated 17.02.2003 clearly provided

that the Central Pension is to be granted to the

participants of the second phase of Goa Liberation

Movement who have been granted freedom fighter

pension by the State Government by 01.08.2002.

Whether the condition of cut-off date of 01.08.2002

as fixed in the Scheme has any rationale or the

said date is arbitrary and despite not fulfilling

the such condition, the respondent is entitled for

grant of pension are the main questions to be

answered.

19. We may notice that before the High Court the

appellant had not filed any reply nor gave any

justification to restrict the entitlement of

pension of freedom fighters who were in receipt of

State Pension as on 01.08.2002. The appellant
P a g e 22 | 37
having not filed any reply, the High Court held

that so far as the averments and prayers of the

writ petitions are concerned, there being no

specific denial nor even reply filed by the

respondent, therefore, contentions and ground

raised by the petitioner need to be accepted.

20. When this case was being heard by this Bench,

a query was put to the counsel for the appellant

as to what is the rationale for fixing cut-off date

01.08.2002. By order dated 19.11.2019, parties

were permitted to file additional affidavits

within two weeks and it was thereafter the

appellant has filed additional affidavit on

03.12.2019.

21. Learned counsel for the appellant has brought

on record the notes of the meeting dated 02.08.2002

chaired by Deputy Prime Minister where cut-off date

01.08.2002 was fixed. Note contains the details of

list of freedom fighters received from different

states with regard to freedom fighters who took

part in second phase of Goa Liberation Movement.

P a g e 23 | 37
The Government of Maharashtra had enclosed a list

of 1716 freedom fighters, the Government of

Rajasthan had sanctioned pension to 24 persons. It

has been noticed that total number of freedom

fighters who may be eligible from State of

Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar

Pradesh, Goa and Haryana could be approximately

3,500. It was noticed that the scheme cannot be

kept open ended and the date fixed to consider only

those freedom fighters eligible for relaxation

under SSSP Scheme who had taken part in second

phase of Goa Liberation Movement(1954-55) and who

had already been sanctioned the freedom fighters

pension by the concerned State Government before a

fixed date such as 01.08.2002. It is useful to

refer to paragraphs 3,4, and 5 of the Note: –

“3. Hon’ble Dy.PM expressed the view
that a large number of senior leaders
like Prof. Madhu Dhandavate, Shri Ram
Naik, Shri Sharad Pawar had pleaded the
case of freedom fighters of Phase II of
Goa Liberation Movement and the matter
was pending for more than two years now.

There was merit in granting them the
benefits of the SSS Pension Scheme in
relaxation of the eligibility criteria
on similar grounds on which the

P a g e 24 | 37
relaxation was given to freedom fighters
of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. While
appreciating our apprehension that if
the scheme was kept open ended, we may
be flooded with more and more
applications, the Dy.PM was of the view
that we may fix a date and consider only
those freedom fighters eligible for the
relaxation under the SSS Pension Scheme
who had taken part in Phase II of the
Goa Liberation Movement in 1954-55 and
who had already been sanctioned the
freedom fighters pension by the
concerned State Governments before a
fixed dated such as 01.08.2002.

4. When the delegation led by Prof.
Dhandavate called on the Dy.PM and
handed over the representation as at FR,
Dy.PM asked them about how many freedom
fighters from which States would be
eligible for the Pension in case
relaxation under the Scheme were
provided. It was pointed out by the
delegates that there would be
approximately 3500 freedom fighters who
may become eligible from the States of
Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya
Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. The
figure excluded the freedom fighters
from Karnataka (2225) who had been
sanctioned pension by the State
Government but whose pension was
subsequently cancelled by the
Government of Karnataka in 1995.

5. After discussions, Dy.PM desired that
we may take action as under: –

(i) Provide relaxation under the
SSS Pension Scheme, 1980 to the
freedom fighters of Goa
Liberation Movement, Phase II

P a g e 25 | 37
(1954-55) who had already been
sanctioned Pension by the State
Governments of Maharashtra,
Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya
Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Goa by
01.08.2002.

(ii) We may write to the State
Governments concerned to send us
a list of such freedom fighters,
immediately, However, such lists
should be confined to cases where
the freedom fighters’ pension had
been actually sanctioned by the
State Government by 01.08.2002.

(iii) The approximate figure of
the freedom fighters eligible for
this relaxation is 3500.

Eligibility criteria for the
grant of SSS Pension will be the
grant of freedom fighters’
pension by the State Government
by 01.08.2002 for his having
taken part in the Goa Liberation
Movement during the years 1954-

55.”

22. Subsequently, the cabinet approved the scheme

and scheme dated 17.02.2003 was issued by the

Government of India incorporating the cut-off date

to 01.08.2002.

23. From the material which has been brought on

record, it does appear that Government of India

P a g e 26 | 37
deliberated on the issue of cut-off date and the

cut-off date was consciously fixed for extending

the benefit of SSSP scheme to participants of Goa

Liberation Movement, Phase-II. The eligibility

under the SSSP Scheme, 1980, is entirely different

from the eligibility of the State pension under

the Goa Rules. Goa was liberated in 1961. State

has framed the rules initially in 1973 and

thereafter in 1988. Freedom Fighters were

sanctioned pensions in aforesaid Goa Rules at least

after 1973. The question of extension of SSSP

scheme to the participants of Goa Liberation,

Phase-II was being considered by the Central

Government from the year 2000 and ultimately, it

was extended by Scheme dated 17.02.2003. Already,

more than forty years have been passed for Goa

Liberation and more than 30 years have been passed

for start of sanction of pension by the State of

Goa. SSSP Scheme, 1980, had been extended to Goa

Liberation Movement, Phase-II by relaxing the

conditions which were there for grant of SSS

Pension Scheme, 1980. When a benefit is granted in

P a g e 27 | 37
relaxation of Scheme, it is open for the Government

to put conditions for eligibility.

24. In view of the above, we are of the considered

opinion that there is a rationale for extending

the Scheme with a cut-off date. The submission of

learned counsel for respondent No.1 is that there

was no nexus with the object sought to be achieved

in fixation of cut-off date i.e. 01.08.2002.

Learned counsel for the respondent No.1 submits

that when the object of SSS Pension Scheme is to

grant the benefit of pension to all Freedom

Fighters, who participated in the Goa Liberation

Movement, there is no intelligible differentia

between Freedom Fighters, who were granted State

pension by 01.08.2002 and those, who were granted

pension subsequent to 01.08.2002. Elaborating the

argument, it is further submitted that in any view

of the matter in the Cut-off date, there is no

nexus with the object sought to be achieved. It

is submitted that due to there being no

intelligible differentia and there being no nexus

P a g e 28 | 37
with the object sought to be achieved, the cut-off

date 01.08.2002 was clearly arbitrary and liable

to be struck down.

25. We have already noticed that the SSSP Scheme,

1980 provided for eligibilities for Freedom

Fighters to make an application under the SSSP

Scheme, 1980. Freedom Fighters of the Goa were

also included and those who fulfil the conditions

therein were entitled to grant of the pension. In

the present case, we are concerned with the SSSP

Scheme, 1980. The object of the Scheme was to

sanction pension under the Scheme, 1980, who fulfil

the eligibilities as per the Scheme. The State

pension for which Scheme and Rules have been

formulated by different States including the State

of Goa were on different eligibilities and the mere

fact that a person is eligible or entitled to a

State pension does not ipso facto makes him

eligible for the SSSP Scheme, 1980. The object of

the SSSP Scheme, 1980 was to grant the Freedom

Fighters Central Pension to those, who fulfil the

P a g e 29 | 37
eligibility which object was clearly fulfilled in

including the Goa Liberation Movement also under

the Scheme. As noted above, representations were

received from various quarters to extend the SSSP

Scheme, 1980 to participants of Goa Liberation

Movement particularly, those, who participated in

the Second phase of the Movement (1954-55). The

Central Government decided to relax the conditions

of eligibility under SSSP Scheme, 1980 by Scheme

dated 17.02.2003 and while relaxing the Scheme cut-

off date 01.08.2002 was fixed for making eligible

the participants of Goa Liberation Movement. We

have already noticed the rationale for fixing the

cut-off date, which was fixed after due

deliberation and consideration of relevant facts.

26. The submission of learned counsel for the

respondent No.1 is that there was no nexus with

the object sought to be achieved by fixing the cut-

off date 01.08.2002. As noticed above, the object

of SSSP Scheme, 1980 was to grant Central Pension

to those who were eligible under the said Scheme.

P a g e 30 | 37
The Freedom Fighters of the Goa Liberation Movement

were already included in the Scheme, 1980, who were

eligible as per the said Scheme. Thus, with regard

to Freedom Fighters of Goa Liberation Movement,

the Scheme, 1980 covered them and the object was

to grant only those Freedom Fighters of Goa

Liberation Movement, who fulfilled the eligibility

of SSSP Scheme, 1980. When Scheme was relaxed and

extended to participants of the Goa Liberation

Movement Second Phase, relaxation was granted in

the eligibility as provided in the SSSP Scheme,

1980 with the condition that those who are in

receipt of State pension by 01.08.2002 should be

extended the benefit of relaxation. The Scheme

was not an open-ended Scheme and relaxation was

granted to a particular category of persons, who

were in receipt of the State pension by 01.08.2002.

The relaxation granted by order dated 17.02.2003

cannot be said to be the object of the Central

Government. The object under SSSP Scheme, 1980

was always and still is to grant Freedom Fighters

pension to those who fulfil the eligibility of SSSP

P a g e 31 | 37
Scheme, 1980. The submission of the learned

counsel for the respondent No.1 that object of SSSP

Scheme, 1980 was to grant central pension to all

those, who are in receipt of the State pension

cannot be accepted. By relaxing, the SSSP Scheme,

1980 for a limited category, the object of the main

Scheme shall not be lost nor those who are not

covered by relaxed conditions can claim right to

grant of SSSP Scheme, 1980. We, thus, are of the

view that the Scheme dated 17.02.2003 has

intelligible differentia and also nexus with the

object. When relaxation is granted to a limited

category, the others, who are not covered by the

Scheme cannot claim any violation of right of

equality. Right of equality can be claimed only

by those who fulfil the eligibilities under the

SSSP Scheme, 1980.

27. The submission which has further been pressed

by the counsel for respondent No.1 is that when

ultimately the state has accepted the respondent

No.1 was entitled for State Pension, although, in

P a g e 32 | 37
the year 2008, there is no justification for

denying him the benefit. It is submitted that

respondent No.1 had applied for grant of State

Pension much before 01.08.2002 and if the State

had wrongly rejected it earlier, the claim of the

respondent No.1 cannot be prejudiced.

28. We have carefully examined and looked into the

materials before us as well as the original

records. In the subsequent grant of pension to the

respondent No.1 in the year 2008, there is no

reference or claim that earlier rejection of claim

of respondent No.1 was unjustified or was wrong.

The scheme was reopened in the year 2003 by the

State of Goa and in response to the reopening of

the scheme, applications were received and after

scrutinizing the claim of respondent No.1

sanctioned w.e.f. 01.12.2007. The Sanction of the

Scheme granted to the respondent from 01.12.2007

cannot be read to mean that he was sanctioned from

the date when his earlier application was rejected

or from the date, he made the application.

P a g e 33 | 37

29. The High Court has referred to and relied on

the judgment of this Court in Mukund Lal Bhandari

and Others Vs. Union of India and Others, (1993)

supp. 3 SCC 2. In the above case, one of the grounds

for rejecting the application for grant of SSS

Pension was that the petitioner had made an

application after the date for making the

application as specified in the scheme expired.

This Court held that the date prescribed inviting

the claim was more of the matter of administrative

convenience than as a rigid time limit. In

paragraph 7 of the judgment, following has been

laid down by this Court: –

“7. As regards the contention that the
petitioners had filed their
applications after the date prescribed
in that behalf, we are afraid that the
Government stand is not justifiable. It
is common knowledge that those who
participated in the freedom struggle
either at the national level or in the
erstwhile Nizam State, are scattered all
over the country and most of them may
even be inhabiting the remotest parts
of the rural areas. What is more, almost
all of them must have now grown pretty
old, if they are alive. Where the
freedom fighters are not alive and their
widows and the unmarried daughters have
to prefer claims, the position may still

P a g e 34 | 37
be worse with regard to their knowledge
of the prescribed date. What is more,
if the Scheme has been introduced with
the genuine desire to assist and honour
those who had given the best part of
their life for the country, it ill
behoves the Government to raise pleas
of limitation against such claims. In
fact, the Government, if it is possible
for them to do so, should find out the
freedom fighters or their dependants and
approach them with the pension instead
of requiring them to make applications
for the same. That would be the true
spirit of working out such Schemes. The
Scheme has rightly been renamed in 1985
as the Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension
Scheme to accord with its object. We,
therefore, cannot countenance the plea
of the Government that the claimants
would only be entitled to the benefit
of the Scheme if they made applications
before a particular date
notwithstanding that in fact, they had
suffered the imprisonment and made the
sacrifices and were thus otherwise
qualified to receive the benefit. We
are, therefore, of the view that
whatever the date on which the claimants
make the applications, the benefit
should be made available to them. The
date prescribed in any past or future
notice inviting the claims, should be
regarded more as a matter of
administrative convenience than as a
rigid time-limit.”

30. The date for making an application in the

Scheme, as in the above case the last date for

application for considering the freedom fighter’s

P a g e 35 | 37
pension may not be a rigid rule as rightly held by

this Court in Mukund Lal Bhandari’s case but

present is a case where SSSP Scheme has been

extended by relaxing the scheme to Goa Liberation

Movement, Phase-II, by fixing a cut-off date for

consideration under the scheme which is a condition

for grant of SSS Pension. The judgment in Mukund

Lal Bhandari is thus distinguishable and cannot be

pressed in service in facts of the present case.

31. As noted above, before the High Court

appellant could not file reply and bring the

relevant facts and materials. The appellant ought

to have been careful and produced relevant

materials before the High Court for its

consideration, but given opportunity by this

Court, relevant materials have been brought on the

record by way of additional Affidavit which

materials we have perused. The appeal is being

decided after taking into consideration the

relevant materials brought on record.

P a g e 36 | 37

32. We thus are of the view that there was no error

in rejecting the claim of respondent No.1 for grant

of SSSP scheme as communicated by communication

letters dated 16.11.2009 and 13.11.2014. The

Government Scheme dated 17.02.2003 also did not

suffer from any infirmity.

33. In result, the appeal is allowed. The writ

petition of the respondent No.1 stands dismissed.

………………….J.

( ASHOK BHUSHAN )

………………….J.

( NAVIN SINHA )
New Delhi,
February 11, 2020.

P a g e 37 | 37



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