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Padu Bala Bora v/s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Represented by the Chairman-Cum-Managing Director, New Delhi & Others

    OA. No. 219 of 2018

    Decided On, 05 May 2022

    At, Central Administrative Tribunal Guwahati Bench Guwahati

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. TARUN SHRIDHAR
    By, ADMINISTRATIVE MEMBER

    For the Applicant: D.K. Bordoloi, H. Chakrabarty, P. Das, Advocates. For the Respondents: V. Kumar on behalf of B. Pathak, Advocates.



Judgment Text

(Through Video Conferencing)

Order (Oral):

1. The applicant is aggrieved by the denial of the family pension to her and by virtue of the instant OA seeks the following reliefs:-

“8.1 Allow the applicant to receive all the death cum service benefits including retirement benefits, gratuity etc. amounting to Rs. 443904/-, Family pension and other dues with interest as per law.

8.2 Allow the applicant to receive family pension from the period from which the applicant are entitled to receive.

8.3 To set aside and quash the impugned letter (nor known to the applicant) whereby retirement benefits, gratuity etc. amounting to Rs. 443904/-, and other dues was allowed in favour of the respondent No. 4.

8.4 To set aside and suspend the order whereby Family pension is due to Smti Anima Borah, and PPO No. 782016062206960 dated 09.08.2017 till final disposal of the present application.

8.3 Or any other for any other relief(s) to which the applicant is found entitled to under the law and the facts and circumstances of the case and 8.4 Cost of the application.”

2. Brief facts of the case are that Sh. Late Biren Ch. Borah was an employee of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) who was in receipt of pension after his retirement, died on 27.6.2016. Subsequent to his death, the present applicant claiming to be the legally wedded wife of late employee preferred her claim for grant of family pension, gratuity and other retiral dues of the late employee. However, the respondents have not accepted her claim on the ground that family pension and other admissible benefits have already been extended to one Smt. Anima Borah, who according to the service record of late employee, Shri Biren Ch. Borah, was his legally wedded wife. The said Smt. Anima Borah, is arrayed as Respondent No.4 in the present OA.

3. Learned counsel for the applicant argues that the name of the applicant does not figure in the service record of late employee as also in the nomination form of pension papers on account of strained relationship between the applicant and the late employee. To substantiate this claim, he draws attention to several documents he has placed on record which indicate that the couple was engaged in series of litigations on account of their marital dispute and family court has also affirmed a compromise deal by virtue of which the applicant and her children were being paid maintenance by late Biren Ch. Borah. Learned counsel submits that this conclusively establishes that the applicant is the legally wedded wife of late Biren Ch. Borah. According to the learned counsel, the respondents have no cause to deny her the benefits of family pension which is admissible to her under the rules governing the subject.

4. Learned counsel for the respondents rebuts the arguments and submits that Respondent No.4 being recorded as the wife of late employee in the service record as also being the nominee of the employee in his pension papers, has been sanctioned and released pension as per admissibility. Therefore, learned counsel goes on to argue, the respondents cannot be allowing family pension to two persons especially when the second one is claiming to be the wife without producing any evidence to that effect.

5. At this stage, learned counsel for the applicant contests that Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Moina Muchi Versus Anardu Muchi; 2005 (2) GLT 204 has held that mere existence of the name of a person in service record does not establish the status of such a person as the spouse of the employee. He further mentions that the respondents have sanctioned family pension and other retiral dues in favour of Respondent No.4 without ascertaining the factual position with respect to her status and without conducting even a preliminary enquiry whereas in the case of the applicant, they have raised all kinds of objection. However, learned counsel for the respondents submits that it is not within the scope and purview of the respondents to be conducting an investigation as to who is the legally wedded wife and who is not. The respondents are to be squarely guided by the entries as they exist in the service record and the service record contains the name of Respondent No.4 as the legally wedded wife. Accordingly, the respondents have rightfully, in accordance with the rules, sanctioned family pension in her favour. He further argues that the Tribunal does not have any jurisdiction to determine as to who the wife is and what kind of maintenance she would be entitled to. He also quotes from another judgment rendered by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Rameshwari Devi Versus State of Bihar & others (AIR 2000 SC 785) wherein the Court had held that in case of a dispute between two or more claimants for family pension, an enquiry must be held before sanctioning the same.

6. Mr. Abhishek Kundu, learned counsel for Union of India, submits that Union of India is only a proforma and formal party in the matter. However, he submits that the instant controversy and dispute is to be decided purely on the basis of the rules governing grant of family pension.

7. I have heard learned counsel for the parties and also gone through the documents on record.

8. While I appreciate that the applicant may be having a genuine grievance and may be going through financial hardship, it is not possible for me to determine the legal or marital status of the applicant. No doubt, learned counsel has drawn attention to the fact, which is not disputed, that the applicant and her children were in receipt of maintenance from Shri Biren Ch. Borah, the deceased employee of the BSNL, it does not anywhere conclusively establish that she was in receipt of such maintenance being the only legally wedded wife of the late employee. Moreover, it is not the case wherein the respondents have at any stage being reluctant to or guilty of not sanctioning and releasing family pension to the legal heirs. The respondents, in accordance with the entries in the service records and in accordance with their own judgment, have given family pension to the person who has been established to be the legally wedded wife as per their records. Therefore, I am not inclined to hold the respondents responsible for denial of any claim/benefits. In the instant case, the applicant’s claim is that she is the successor and legal heir of late Biren Ch. Borah and, accordingly, benefits which have granted to Respondent No.4 should have been awarded to her.

9. I am in agreement with submission of learned counsel for the respondents that it would be beyond the scope and jurisdiction of this Tribunal to determine the issue of succession or the legal heirs of the

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late employee. The claimant of family pension is to be determined primarily on the basis of the entries in the service book and the nomination made in the pension papers. In this case, I am even not convinced that there is a dispute which required adjudication before pension was to be awarded. The service particulars contain the name of Respondent No.4 and, accordingly, respondents have awarded her the family pension. The applicant would be well advised to use an appropriate legal forum to agitate her grievance or to prefer her claim. This Tribunal is not in a position to go into an investigation spree to determine her claim. 10. Accordingly, in my view, the instant OA does not merit any interference and is accordingly dismissed. No costs.
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