Calcutta, Oct. 7: Moved by the plight of a widow whose husband died without getting his pension for more than three years after retirement, Calcutta High Court today asked the Bengal government to pay her full pension benefits for a period that would include four years after the man himself died.
Late Parbati Kumar Das, who retired as a non-teaching employee of a government-aided school in Malihati village in the Salar area of Murshidabad on January 31, 1995, thus became the first person in the state to draw pension for a period when he did not exist at all.
Despite the fact that Das died in October 1998, Justice Barin Ghosh directed the government to pay his widow, Jyotsnamayee, full pension from his date of retirement till December 31, 2002. If it did not make the payment by then, the rate of interest would be raised from the normal 12 to 20 per cent, the court said.
Justice Ghosh said Jyotsnamayee would be eligible for widow pension from January 1, 2003.
The court, incensed with the delay, told the government that it had the option of realising the dues from education department staff guilty of the delay in paying pension. Das had submitted the papers required to claim pension immediately after retirement.
The Murshidabad district inspector of schools’ office sat on the file for more than three years, forcing Das to move Calcutta High Court in January 1998. Das was so poor that going to the court was an option he tried only after every other — like visiting the district inspector’s office — failed, his counsel, Salauddin Ahmed, said.
In March 1998, after hearing of Das’ plight, Justice Gitesh Ranjan Bhattacharya ordered the district inspector’s office to release the dues. But this order went unheeded. It was in such a condition that Das died, leaving his jobless wife to fend for herself.
The widow, too, waited for some time before she moved the high court; she filed the case only in 2001. Like her husband, she too waited hoping that the pension would come in the normal course of things.
Ghosh’s verdict was read out when the district inspector of schools, Murshidabad, was present in court after having come here on the court’s insistence.
“Let us hope that my client finally gets justice after this,” Ahmed said.
“This court has provided relief to many people who had not been getting their pensions due to delays on the part of government employees. The government should pull them up for the delays.”