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When railway’s rules gives right to pension to more than one widow of its employee, second wife can’t be denied share: HC

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A view of High Court of Karnataka.

A view of High Court of Karnataka.
| Photo Credit: V Sreenivasa Murthy

As the Indian Railway’s rules clearly give right to family pension of a deceased employee in equal proportion to more than one widow, the second wife of the employee is entitled even if the second marriage is void as per the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, said the High Court of Karnataka.

However, the court made it clear that the second wife is entitled to an equal share in the family pension only because Rule 75 of the Railway Services (Pension) Rules, 1993, amended in 2016, gives a right to claim pension to one or more widow of a deceased employee in equal shares. If the rules had not envisaged such a situation, then the second wife could not have right to claim share in the pension, the court clarified.

Justice Nagaprasanna passed the order while allowing a petition filed by the 44-year-old second wife of a deceased employee seeking 50% share in his pension and rejecting the contention of the 48-year-old first wife, who had claimed that the second wife was not eligible for an equal share in the pension as her marriage was void as per Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, which prohibits second marriage during the subsistence of the first marriage.

The Karnataka High Court noted that the Bombay High Court in its 2014 verdict had not only held that Rule 75 of the Railway Services (Pension) Rules does not violate Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act but also commended the Railways for framing rules that provide equal share for widows in family pension.

The Bombay High Court had said that Rule 75 was in consonance with the constitutional obligations of the State under Article 39 of the Constitution that provides for securing adequate means of livelihood for men and women equally; and for ensuring health and strength for women, Justice Nagaprasanna pointed out, while directing payment of 50% of the family pension amount to the second wife.

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