H.Mariyam Beevi vs The Secretary to Government – Madras High Court

Madras High Court

H.Mariyam Beevi vs The Secretary To Government on 27 June, 2011

DATED : 27.06.2011

CORAM
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE K.CHANDRU

W.P.No.22122 of 2010

H.Mariyam Beevi …Petitioner

Vs.

1.The Secretary to Government,
Government of Tamil Nadu,
Social Welfare and Nutritious Meals
Scheme Department,
Secretariat, Chennai 600 009.

2.The Commissioner of
Revenue Administration,
Ezhilagam, Chepauk,
Chennai 600 005.

3.The Collector of Kanyakumari District,
Nagercoil 629 001.

4.The Special Tahsildar,
Social Security Scheme,
Agastheeswaram Taluk Office,
Nagercoil 629 001.

5.The Commissioner,
Nagercoil Municipality,
Nagercoil 629 001. …Respondents

Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for a Writ of certiorarified mandamus, Calling for and examining the records of the 4th respondent herein in her proceedings resulting in the order in Na.Ka.No.B3-631-2010 dated 17.05.2010 and the letter dated 2.6.2010 and quash the same and consequentially directing the 4th respondent herein to consider the request of the petitioner to extend to her the benefits under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme.

For Petitioner : Mr.S.M.Hameed Mohideen
For Respondents : Mr.R.Ravichandran,AGP
for Mr.M.C.Swamy,Spl.G.P.
for R1 to R4
Mr.J.Rajakalifulla for R5

ORDER

The petitioner has filed the present writ petition, challenging an order dated 17.05.2010 passed by the 4th respondent Special Tahsildar, Social Security Scheme, Agastheeswaram Taluk Office, Nagercoil.

2. By the impugned order, the petitioner was informed that her claim for pension for the old age will be taken up only if her name was included in the list of persons who are living Below Poverty Line (for short BPL).

3. When the matter came up on 28.09.2010, this Court directed the learned Additional Government Pleader to take notice and the petitioner was also permitted to send private notice to the respondents. On notice from this Court, on behalf of the first respondent, a counter affidavit dated 17.02.2011 was filed.

4. The petitioner is a widow and she is 69 years old. She is having only female children. She also did not have anybody to support her. Therefore, she made an application on 11.08.2008 to the third respondent District Collector requesting him to sanction old age pension to her under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme. Initially her application was not accepted as she was not residing in the address given and that she was not living below the poverty line. Once again she sent a representation to the second respondent dated 26.10.2009 requesting sanction of old age pension. After enquiry, the petitioner’s request was not accepted giving very same reasons.

5. The petitioner filed a writ petition before this Court being W.P.No.7545 of 2010, praying sanction for old age pension. This Court by an order dated 15.04.2010 directed the 4th respondent to consider the representation of the petitioner dated 19.11.2009 keeping in mind the scheme of sanction of pension and to pass necessary orders.

6. The petitioner was directed to appear before the Special Tahsildar, the 4th respondent on 29.04.2010 with all available records. The petitioner also appeared before the 4th respondent and a statement was recorded from her. During the enquiry, the petitioner stated that she was living with her elder daughter, having no support from her and struggling to run her life. But it is the case of the respondents that the petitioner’s native place is in Aloor Village, Kalkulam Village and that she is now living with her elder daughter. It was found that she is a widow having no male children. But her elder daughter’s family was wealthy and her son-in-law was a retired Government Officer and the petitioner was not a destitute. The scheme for old age pension under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme made in G.O.Ms.No.217, Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department, dated 16.11.2007 provides for pension to those who attained 65 years of age and living below poverty line. In that Government Order, it was mentioned that for the identification of beneficiaries in the urban areas, it was directed to carry out identification of eligible beneficiaries as per the BPL list required to be prepared in connection with Poverty alleviation programmes of the Ministry of Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation. Though the petitioner was admittedly above 65 years, but she she was not living below the poverty line. Since the name of the petitioner was not in the BPL list, the Commissioner for Nagercoil Municipality was asked to take appropriate action to include the petitioner’s name in the BPL list.

7. The 5th respondent, Commissioner of Nagercoil Municipality by a communication dated 07.05.2010 informed that there was no provision at present to include or delete any name in the BPL list. It was also stated that as and when Government Order was received, steps would be taken to include her name in the BPL list as per the norms. When the reply was sent to the petitioner on 17.05.2010, she filed an appeal petition on 21.05.2010 to the 4th respondent. It is pursuant to the order issued by this Court, the 4th respondent negatived the claim of the petitioner. Subsequently, when the petitioner persisted with her request, by a communication dated 02.06.2010, the 4th respondent had stated that once again the Commissioner of Nagercoil Municipality was directed to include the name of the petitioner in the list of persons below poverty line. It is only after getting his report, further action will be taken. The petitioner thereafter appealed to the District Collector, following which, she has moved this Court.

8.The petitioner had also filed a reply affidavit dated 21.04.2001. With reference to the allegation that her son-in-law was a retired Government servant, it was stated that he was a Record Clerk and he is getting a meagre amount as pension and he has got his own family to take care. The petitioner had also stated that her elder daughter had underwent an operation and incurred huge expenditure.

9. It is rather unfortunate that the respondents are driving the petitioner with continuous representation and rejecting her request for old age pension on untenable reasons. The petitioner, inasmuch as she is above 65 years old and a widow, her name would have been normally included in the list of BPL. Though the respondents were initially contending that her son-in-law is a wealthy person, but it transpires he is only a retired Record Clerk getting a meagre pension and finding it difficult to support his own family. In the Muslim Personal law applicable to the petitioner, there is no obligation for the son-in-law to maintain the mother-in-law. Therefore, the respondents themselves have given up that defence and asked the Commissioner of Nagercoil Municipality to include her name in the BPL list.

10. It is necessary to refer to Article 41 of the Constitution, which enables the State to provide support to persons who are suffering due to old age and it is pursuant to this provision, the present Scheme also has been conceived by the Central Government. Article 41 reads as follows:-

41. Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.-

The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

11. In this context, it is necessary to refer to an enactment made by the Parliament by Central Act 56 of 2007 viz., the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The objects and reasons which made the Parliament to bring the Act are as follows:-

“Traditional norms and values of the Indian society laid stress on providing care for the elderly. However, due to withering of the joint family system, a large number of elderly are not being looked after by their family.

Consequently, many older persons, particularly widowed women are now forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to emotional neglect and to lack of physical and financial support. This clearly reveals that ageing has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection for the older persons. Though the parents can claim maintenance under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the procedure is both time-consuming as well as expensive. Hence, there is a need to have simple, inexpensive and speedy provisions to claim maintenance for parents.

2.The Bill proposes to cast an obligation on the persons who inherit the property of their aged relatives to maintain such aged relatives and also proposes to make provisions for setting-up oldage homes for providing maintenance to the indigent older persons.”

12. Under the Act, the term ‘relative’ is defined under section 2(g) and it is only those relatives who are obliged to maintain the parents who are senior citizens. A perusal of the provision shows that a son-in-law is not mandated to maintain his mother-in-law. In this case, it is not stated that the daughters of the petitioner were either employed or were having economic strength to maintain her.

13. It is unfortunate that the respondents should wait to include the name of the petitioner in the list of persons covered by BPL. On the other hand, the definition of BPL had already been set out by the State and Central Governments under various schemes. Once the petitioner comes within the said definition, there need not be a further formality to include such names only at the appropriate intervals. The reasons given by the respondents cannot be accepted.

14. In the light of the above, the writ petition stands allowed and the impugned order stands set aside. The respondents are hereby directed to grant old age pension to the petitioner in accordance with the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme. Such payment to the petitioner should start within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this Order.

To

1.The Secretary to Government,
Government of Tamil Nadu,
Social Welfare and Nutritious Meals
Scheme Department,
Secretariat, Chennai 600 009.

2.The Commissioner of
Revenue Administration,
Ezhilagam, Chepauk,
Chennai 600 005.

3.The Collector of Kanyakumari District,
Nagercoil 629 001.

4.The Special Tahsildar,
Social Security Scheme,
Agastheeswaram Taluk Office,
Nagercoil 629 001.

5.The Commissioner,
Nagercoil Municipality,
Nagercoil 629 001

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