Surprised With Maharashtra Govt’s Stand Not To Extend Benefits To Martyr (Major) Anuj Sood’s Widow: Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court on Friday expressed it was “not happy” and “surprised” over the Maharashtra government’s stand that it was not possible to grant monetary benefits to the family of late Major Anuj Sood, who was martyred in May 2020 in Jammu and Kashmir. 

The court said that the government had failed to take a positive stand despite its orders asking the chief minister to consider the matter as a “special case”.

A bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla was hearing a petition filed by Aakriti Sood, widow of late Major Anuj Sood, seeking benefits 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 has said that only those who were born in Maharashtra or have lived in the state continuously for 15 years were eligible for monetary benefit and allowance.

Government pleader PP Kakade informed the bench on Friday that benefits couldn’t be extended to Sood’s widow as he was not a “domicile” of the state. He said: “We need to take a proper policy decision for which we need to approach the cabinet. The cabinet is not sitting now.” 

Displeased with the contention, the bench said: “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 Judges said they had asked the highest authority in the State, CM, 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 remarked.

“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,” the judge added. 

Noting that the government has orally said that the benefits cannot be granted,  the HC has asked the state to file the same on affidavit. 

“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 court noted. 

The HC has asked the state to file an affidavit by April 16 and said it will deal with it accordingly. 

Aakriti Sood has challenged the government’s communication on August 26, 2020, denying benefits. She has 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. 

Source link