Madras High Court building. (File Photo | EPS) By Express News Service
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court pulled up government officials for sitting on the pension application of a 99-year-old freedom fighter for over two decades. The HC said the officials should feel ashamed that a 99-year-old man had to approach the court for getting the freedom fighter’s pension as his application had been kept pending for 23 years.
The court also directed the State and Central governments to immediately file a detailed report on the issue. Justice R Suresh Kumar passed the orders on a plea moved by S Gafoor of Vyasarpadi. Gafoor submitted that he was a member of the Indian Independence League founded by Subhas Chandra Bose in Burma, and later joined the Indian National Army (INA) in Rangoon.
“I was a sepoy in the training office platoon under Commander GS Dhillan. I was also a part of the second battalion of IV Guerilla Regiment Poppa Hills War Front and remained in prison for over a year,” he submitted. The petitioner further said that he had made several attempts to receive freedom fighter’s pension and was made to run from pillar to post since 1997, but in vain.
His counsel argued that the officials had kept Gafoor’s application pending for the past 23 years, even though he was eligible for the pension under both the State and Central government schemes. The court observed, “There has been a number of correspondences, but still the matter is kept pending by the State authorities, particularly the District Collector.” The judge added, “If these submissions are true, this court feels that the authorities concerned should be ashamed of the inaction on their part, as a 99-year-old freedom fighter had to move court for recognition and pension.”