In a welcome move, the defence ministry has decided to put an end to an old regressive rule which restricted the payment of monetary compensation to a gallantry award winner’s widow.The old regressive rule used to put a restriction on receiving of monetary benefit by gallantry award winners’ widow if they married someone other than their late husband’s brother.

Earlier the court had reprimanded the defence ministry for following such “derogatory and draconian policies”.

The government, after considering the issue and receiving several representations, has been decided to remove the condition of the widow’s remarriage with her late husband’s brother for the continuation of the monetary allowance,” a defence ministry official was quoted as saying by TOI. Tuesday.

Source

The decision comes as a response to an appeal filed by Janak Anand, whose husband Captain S C Sehgal was awarded a Vir Chakra for exhibiting extraordinary bravery and valor while he was martyred during the 1971 war, just a few months after their marriage.

His widow Janak Anand’s monetary allowance for the Vir Chakra was stopped by the government after she married another Army officer, Major Dipak Anand, in October 1974.

Reportedly, the regressive and insensitive rule was reinforced by a letter issued by the Ministry of Defence on January 31, 1995, which read: “The widow will continue to receive the allowance until her re-marriage or death. The payment of the allowance will, however, continue to a widow who re-marries the late husband’s brother and lives a communal life with the living heir eligible for family pension.

Janak Anand(Left) (Source)

Janak Anand fought against the rule for years but all the requests fell on deaf ears. Finally, she approached Armed Forced Tribunal, it found the policy “totally derogatory and violative” of Article 21 of the Constitution. “We cannot have a policy which dictates as to whom a widow must marry if she wants to earn financial benefits of her martyred husband,” it held.

“It is nothing but an affront on the dignity of the war widow whose husband sacrificed his life for the country and earned the Vir Chakra.” The court said that on the one hand, the President of India confers the gallantry award to the lady as a mark of respect for her husband’s sacrifice for the country while on the other side such derogatory policies humiliate the widow by denying her rightful dues. “We are saddened to observe such slipshod treatment to a war widow of 1971”, it told.

It further directed the government to pay Janak Anand all her dues with 10% interest from her date of entitlement.We wholeheartedly welcome the decision of scrapping this illogical rule which used to interfere with the personal choice and dignity of the widows, ultimately contributing to the already existing social exclusion which the face in the society.

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