Child adopted by deceased Government servant not entitled to family pension: Supreme Court
Upholds the judgment of the Bombay High Court
The Supreme Court has held that a child adopted by the spouse of a deceased government servant (after his death) is not entitled to a family pension.
In the Ram Shridhar Chimurkar vs Union of India and Another case, a division bench of Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna ruled that such an adopted child cannot be included within the definition of 'family' under the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 for claiming the family pension.
The judgment stated, "It is necessary that the scope of the benefit of family pension be restricted only to sons and daughters legally adopted by the government servant, during his/her lifetime. The word 'adoption' in Rule 54(14)(b)(ii) of the CCS (Pension) Rules, in the context of the grant of family pension, must be restricted to adoption made by a government servant during his/her lifetime and must not be extended to a case of adoption made by a surviving spouse of the government servant after his/her death."
Explaining the scenario, the bench said that a family pension was devised as a means to help the dependents of the deceased government servant to tide over the crisis and to provide them some succour.
The judges added that the rules said the association of such dependents to the government servant must be direct and not remote. Therefore, those who were not the dependents at the time of his death, could not be included.
The court further stated that the rights of an adopted child against an adoptive family under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, could not be held to be available against the government, particularly when there were extant pension rules.
The court cleared, "There exists a vital difference between the rights of an adopted son under the Hindu Law and his rights to draw the family pension, which creates a burden on the public exchequer."
The bench further said that a child born to a deceased government servant after his death would be entitled to family pension. The position of such a child was different from the child adopted after the death of the government servant.
"This is because the deceased employee would have had no relationship with the adopted child, which would have been adopted subsequent to his demise, as opposed to a child born after his death," the judgment read.
The appellant, a man, who was adopted in 1996 by a widow, about two years after her husband, a government servant, passed away. In 2000, the appellant's claim for family pension was rejected, leading the appellant to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Mumbai, for relief.
Though the tribunal ruled in the appellant's favour, the Bombay High Court set aside the ruling of the tribunal. It prompted the appellant to move the Supreme Court.
While rejecting the appellant's appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court decision which had ruled against his entitlement to the family pension. This was because he was not adopted by the deceased during his lifetime.
While Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Goradia Divan appeared for the respondents, the appellant was represented by advocate K Sarada Devi.