Armyman’s ‘second wife’ to get pension
Manish Raj TNN
Chennai: Can a “second wife” be given pension even if the marriage is not legally valid? Yes, if she is declared the legitimate heir of her deceased husband, said the southern bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal here.
Gottala Mary Bharathi moved tribunal after the Army denied her family pension following the death of her ex-serviceman husband Gottala Jagannadha Rao. In her submission, Bharathi said Rao retired from the Army as naik in 1989 after 15 years of service. When he was in the Army, he got married and then went for a “customary divorce” five years later. The divorce was in the form of a mutual agreement as per “community and caste customs in the presence of village elders”.
Soon after his retirement, he married Bharathi and they lived together for 21 years. They also had a daughter. Before his death in 2010, Rao made a will bequeathing pension and other benefits to Bharathi. When she approached the Army for family pension, her claim was rejected on the grounds that a decree of divorce from a court of law terminating Rao’s first marriage was not provided.
In her petition, Bharathi said she had filed several petitions and affidavits to prove she was the legal wife of Rao. The zilla sainik welfare officer and the pension adalat, too, had recommended to the Army Air Defence Records (AAD) to include her name as the beneficiary, she said. But AAD had insisted on a decree of divorce.
Source::: The Times of India, 26-12-2013, p.12, http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=TOIM/2013/12/26&PageLabel=12&EntityId=Ar01205&ViewMode=HTML