New Delhi: Deciding a long and bitter ‘saas-bahu’ fight over a dead man’s pension, the Supreme Court stood behind the daughter-in-law and ruled that a widow alone was entitled to pension after death of an employee and not his mother.
A bench of Justices A R Dave and L Nageshwar Rao faced a tricky question while deciding this dispute between the mother and wife of deceased Haryana government employee Yash Pal. While the widow laid claim to her late husband’s pension, the mother cited the Hindu Succession Act to stake her claim.
Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Dave said so far as provisions of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 were concerned, the properties of a Hindu who dies intestate (without writing a will) would first of all go to persons categorised as class-I heirs.
“Therefore, so far as the properties of late Yash Pal are concerned, they would be divided among the mother and widow, provided no other family member of Yash Pal is alive who would fall within class-I heirs,” Justice Dave said.
But the position on pension was different, the SC said. Citing an earlier judgment, the court said family pension did not form part of the deceased employee’s property to be divided among his family members categorised as class-I heirs.
“Even the employee has no right to dispose of family pension in his will by giving direction that someone other than the one entitled to it should be given the same,” the bench said and set aside Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order entitling the mother to 50% of family pension.
On the fight between the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law over Yash Pal’s pension, the bench said, “Under the family pension scheme, widow is the only family member entitled to the pension and, therefore, the mother of the deceased would not get any right in the pension. Of course, it cannot be disputed that if there are other assets left by late Yash Pal, his mother would get 50% share if he had not prepared any will and it appears that late Yash Pal had died intestate and no will had been executed by him.”