Read Order: Raj Bala v. State of Haryana and Others 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 14, 2022:  While dealing with a petition of a 22-year old adoptive daughter of a deceased government employee, whose application for getting the benefit of family pension was dismissed on the ground that she was adopted after the date of retirement of her father, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held a child-less employee may adopt a child after retirement and this belated decision cannot be a good enough ground to deny the said child the benefit of the family pension merely on account of the fact that the adoption was done post-retirement. 

“Merely because the adoption is post-retirement which is mainly for the purpose… [seeing] some light in the evening of the life of the couple. The same would not as such be good enough to deny the said child the benefit of the family pension merely on account of the fact that the decision as such to adopt was taken at a belated stage”, expounded the Court. 

The bench of Justices G.S. Sandhawalia and Vikas Puri read done Note-1 of Clause (d) of Sub-rule (ii) of Rule 4 of the Family Pension Scheme, 1964 (as applicable to the State of Haryana) in as much as it provided that children adopted legally before retirement would fall under the definition of ‘family’ and resultantly would be entitled to family pension. 

Against this backdrop, the Bench held, 

“The Rule as such is thus liable to be quashed on the ground of being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it does not serve any purpose and discriminates against children legally adopted after retirement.”

Essentially, in this case, the petitioner (aged 22 years) was an adoptive daughter of Guggu Ram, a deceased government employee who retired as Beldar from the PWD Department on 31 July 1993. She was adopted on April 07, 1995. 

After the death of her adoptive parents, the petitioner applied for getting the benefit of the family pension, however, vide the impugned order of 2017, the petitioner’s application was rejected by the department concerned on the ground that she was adopted after the date of retirement of her deceased father. 

Thus, the petitioner approached the High Court challenging Note-1 of Clause (d) of Sub-rule (ii) of Rule 4 of the Family Pension Scheme, 1964 (as applicable to the State of Haryana) on the ground that the said Note was discriminatory and that fixing the date of retirement as the cut off date would not be legally sustainable as being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since (by virtue of this Note) a child adopted after retirement is not considered entitled to retiral benefits.

The Court, while finding substance in the argument raised by the counsel for the petitioner, observed that the said Note enhanced the discrimination inter se children adopted before and after retirement and as a result kept the ones adopted after retirement out of the ambit of family. They are, thus, excluded from the right of family pension, which is a beneficial provision to ensure that children of a retired government employee do not face any vagrancy, the Court held. 

Therefore, the Court was of the considered view that the Rule was thus liable to be quashed on the ground of being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it discriminated against children legally adopted after retirement. 

Another factor which was considered by the Court was that a child-less employee may adopt a child after retirement and merely because the adoption is post-retirement which is mainly for the purpose of providing dependency and also some light in the evening of the life of the couple, the same would not as such be good enough to deny the said child the benefit of the family pension merely on account of the fact that the decision as such to adopt was taken at a belated stage. 

Additionally, it was asserted that the right to receive the pension is on account of the service rendered by the government employee and it is governed by the relevant Rules and is not a bounty, the same is for maintaining oneself after giving the best of the youth of the employee to service and it is economic security as such for the service rendered not only to the government employee but to the dependents who are entitled to the same.

Accordingly, Note-1 of Clause (d) of Sub-rule (ii) of Rule 4 of the Family Pension Scheme, 1964 (as applicable to the State of Haryana) was read down in as much as it qualified the adoption with a time frame.  

The impugned order was set aside and the petition was allowed. 

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