Declared Dead and Denied Pension! NHRC steps in!
India’s National Human Rights Commission (N H R C) received a complaint in 2016 that one Mesa Paharia (member of a marginalised Hill tribe) of Sahibganj district in Jharkhand, eastern India, was denied his old age pension by revenue authorities showing that he was dead on records. The Commission enquired into the matter and asked for reports. It found that “The report is evasive in nature and certain excuses have been taken to cover up the acts of omissions/commissions on the part of delinquent public servants. On bare perusal of the report, it could be seen that Mesa Paharia was getting pension, he was shown dead despite being alive, his pension was stopped, on enquiry efforts were made by Revenue Authorities to the get the pension revived in June, 2015 and admittedly it was not paid till the person died in December, 2015. The factum of death caused by starvation and illness under extreme poverty has not been contradicted or disputed in the report.”
Thereafter, the Commission concluded that the complaint was genuine and ordered compensation to be paid by the State . It “ sent to the Govt. of Jharkhand through its Chief Secretary to ‘Show Cause’ within six weeks as to why an amount of Rs.1,00,000/-(Rupees One Lakh Only) as interim relief may not be recommended to be paid to NOK of the deceased. He shall also get an enquiry conducted against the delinquent public servants including the Dy. Commissioner, Sahebganj through an officer of appropriate rank in the matter for fixing the accountability and shall submit the action taken report within six weeks without fail. Let a copy of the above report be also transmitted to the petitioner under registered post for comments, if any, within four weeks.”
The Commission received no reply to the Show Cause Notice. Hence, it concluded: “It appears that the State Govt. has no serious objection to the payment of monetary compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lakh) to the NOK of deceased for violation of human rights. In these circumstances, the Commission recommends to the Govt. of Jharkhand through its Chief Secretary to make payment of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees one Lakhs only) to the NOK of deceased and submit a report within six weeks along with the proof of payment. He shall also get an enquiry conducted against the delinquent public servants including the Dy. Commissioner, Sahebganj through an officer of appropriate rank in the matter for fixing the accountability and shall submit the action taken report within six weeks without fail.” (Order dated Sept. 12, 2017)