It has taken almost 50 years for the central government to change this rule.
The rule, dating back to 1972, used to kick in if there was a sordid case of a murder inside the family of a government pensioner by his spouse or kin who was eligible to get the ‘family pension’ after the pensioner passed away. Many viewed such ‘murders most foul’ as ‘killing of the goose that laid the golden egg’.
The punishment hence was severe. The family pension was “suspended” by the government in such cases till the criminal case was decided either way. If the accused was acquitted, the family pension was resumed to him or her with arrears. If the accused was convicted, the pension was resumed to the next eligible member of the family with arrears as well. But given the slow-moving Indian judicial system where a case can languish in various courts for years, the rule was proving to be big suffering for the rest of the family.
On June 16, the government has changed this rule and said the family pension will not be suspended in such cases but will be given immediately to the next eligible member of the family (other than the accused), be it the children or parents of the deceased. “The provisions have been reviewed in consultation with the Department of Legal Affairs,” the new order states.
“Denying the payment of family pension to any other member of the family (like dependent children or parents) who is not charged with the offence, till the conclusion of criminal proceedings is not considered justified, as finalisation of the criminal proceeding may take a long time and the eligible children/parents of the deceased may suffer for want of financial support by way of family pension,” the order issued by Personnel Ministry states.
The Decision Now
The new rule now says that in cases where a person eligible to receive family pension is charged with the offence of murdering the government servant or for abetting in the commission of such an offence, the payment of family pension to him or her shall remain suspended. “But family pension may be allowed to the other eligible member of the family till the conclusion of criminal proceedings in this regard,” the new orders spell out.
“If the spouse of the government servant is charged with the offence, and the other eligible member is a minor child of the deceased government servant, the family pension to such minor child shall be payable through a duly appointed guardian, and the mother or father of the minor child (who is charged with the offence) shall not act as guardian for the purpose of withdrawal of family pension,” the order further says, as abundant caution.
The new orders say that if the accused is subsequently acquitted of the murder charge, the family pension shall become payable to him or her from the date of such acquittal and the family pension to the other member of the family shall be discontinued from that date.