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‘People like petitioner are in distress’: This is why a Kerala HC judge will not partake in Christmas festivities this year

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      24 December, 2023 12:22 PM      0 Comments
‘People like petitioner are in distress’: This is why a Kerala HC judge will not partake in Christmas festivities this year

Kochi: A recent hearing at the Kerala High Court witnessed a rather heated exchange between a High Court Judge and the counsel appearing for the State. 

While hearing a plea seeking pension by a 78 – year old woman Mariyakutty who is waging a legal battle for disbursal of five months of her widow pension arrears, the Kerala High Court expressed its dissatisfaction with the State government’s approach. 

Mariyakutty had petitioned the court, claiming she was a recipient of the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme, that no land was in her name, and that her senior age and associated health issues prevented her from working. She continued by saying that her sole source of income was the Rs. 1,600/-month widow pension, which had not been paid to her in the previous five months and on which she had to make purchases of food, medication, and other necessities.

When the matter was taken up before the Court, Special Government Pleader TB Hood appeared for the Government and submitted that the financial condition of the State is presently not “conducive” to honour the large financial commitment, under the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension. 

Speaking of the State’s current responsibilities, he said that it is providing monthly pension to 3.15 lakh agricultural labourers and to over 76 thousand unmarried women above the age of 50, without any assistance from the Government of India. He further explained that the total beneficiaries of all the afore five Pension Schemes are more than 45 lakhs in number, entailing a monthly outlay of Rs.660 Crores. Because, these Schemes are not statutory in nature, the Government of Kerala will be able to pay it only subject to availability of funds, which he asserted is not now possible on account of its “present financial position”. 

“As and when the financial position of the State improves”, the payout of the afore Schemes, including that involved in this case, will be made, he added. 

This really upset the Court. Though the Court expressed its empathy, it was unable to pass an interim order in favour of the petitioner. 

“This presents real piquant situation for this Court now. Because on one side, is the petitioner who is 78 years in age and who says that she cannot live without the small amount of Rs.1600/- entitled to her under the Pension Scheme; while, on the other, the Government says that its “present financial position” does not permit the disbursal of the pension to anyone. This Court can only leave this case at this moment, recording empathy for the petitioner and for various others like her; but without being in a position to issue an interim order affirmatively against the Government of Kerala for the reasons I have already recorded above”.

Justice Ramachandran also orally remarked today that he would not be partaking in any Christmas festivities when there were people like Mariyakutty were suffering.

The Court then asked her to approach the District Legal Services Authority or other such authorities, in case she required any urgent financial assistance.

During the hearing, the Court took exception to the State government pleader's argument that the widow's actions were politically motivated.

“An ordinary woman against the might of the state. I don’t have the information you are saying. Please don’t say I have to take judicial notice of anything you say. I don’t know what you get by discrediting the petitioner. I will record your statement,” Justice Ramachandran remarked. This, among other statements were then withdrawn by the pleader and the Court stopped short of recording the same in the order. 

The matter will next come up on January 10.

Read Order
 



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