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We will deal with it: HC raps Maha for denying benefits to martyr's wife

April 13, 2024 00:26 IST

The Bombay high court on Friday expressed displeasure with the Maharashtra government for its failure to decide on granting benefits to the widow of an Army major, who was martyred in Jammu and Kashmir, under its policy for ex-servicemen.

IMAGE: A view of the Bombay high court. Photograph: Kind courtesy Rangan Datta/Wikimedia Commons

A division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla said it was "not happy " and "surprised" with the government's stand despite orders passed by the court asking the chief minister to consider the matter as a "special case".


The court was hearing a petition filed by Aakriti Sood, widow of late Major Anuj Sood, seeking benefits (monetary) for ex-servicemen under two government resolutions of 2019 and 2020.

Major Sood lost his life on May 2, 2020 while rescuing civilian hostages from terrorist hideouts in Jammu and Kashmir, and was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.

The state government has contended that only those born in Maharashtra or who lived in the state continuously for 15 years were eligible for monetary benefit and allowance.

On Friday, government pleader P P Kakade informed the bench that the benefits couldn't be extended to Sood as he was not a "domicile" of the state.

"We need to take a proper policy decision for which we need to approach the cabinet. The cabinet is not sitting now," Kakade said.

The bench, however, was not impressed with this and said every time some reason is given to not take a decision.

"You (government) are dealing with such a case...someone has sacrificed his life for the country and you are doing this. We are not happy," the court said.

The bench noted that it had directed the highest authority of the state (chief minister) to consider the matter as a special case and take an appropriate decision.

"We had requested the chief minister to take a decision. He should have taken a decision. If he could not have taken a decision or if it was so grossly improper for him to take a decision, let us know, we will deal with it," Justice Kulkarni said.

"You cannot shirk (the responsibility) now. Now you are saying the cabinet has to see. The cabinet is not sitting. This is not done. We expected much better from the government," he said.

The court in its order noted that the government has orally said the benefit cannot be granted to Sood under the privilege policy.

"We are quite surprised with this stand. We had asked the highest authority of the state to take a decision. If the chief minister is unable to take a decision then let the state government file an affidavit saying so," the bench said.

It directed the government to file an affidavit by April 17 and said it would then deal with the issue accordingly.

Aakriti Sood, in her plea, had challenged the government's communication on August 26, 2020, denying benefits claiming that Sood was not born in Maharashtra or had resided in the state for 15 years.

The petitoner contended that the family had been residing in Maharashtra for the last 15 years as desired by her late husband, who always intended to live in Pune.

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