Justice Krishna S Dixit who delivered the verdict, in the order, stated that all arrears of the nonagenarian be cleared and settled within six weeks or those responsible for the delay shall “personally & collectively” pay him ₹1,000 for the delay each day and that this amount is recovered from erring officials.
Gundurao Desai from Kamalapura in Ballari district, about 320 kms from Bengaluru, is the petitioner in the case and the respondents included the department of home, deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner of Ballari district and the Tahsildar of Hosapete taluk.
The claim was rejected on the ground that Desai had not produced affidavits sworn by two persons who were detained along with him by the British during their participation in the independence struggle.
The Court said that the State compelling the petitioner to produce the affidavits of two co-detenues, who had already passed, virtually amounts to compelling him to retrieve the dead from their grave, which is an impossible task.
The HC stated that the petitioner claimed pension in March 1998 “except that the file moved from this office table to that” and nothing had happened for more than two decades. The court reprimanded the state government for not at least giving some concession to the “shortness of human life” and that the process moved at “snail speed”.
The HC added that the state government has to be gentle and humane when considering the claims of such persons and their just claims cannot be rejected on “flimsy grounds”.
“The approach of the statutory authorities to the compassionate policies of the State such as Freedom Fighters Pension Schemes should not hijack justice in the ritualistic adherence to the black letter of the law and a gross disregard to its spirit,” the HC said.