A division bench of the SC passed the stay order on November 4, and fixed the next date of hearing on December 9.
The then state government had issued an order on March 5, 2014, to grant Rs 10 lakh to families of personnel of armed forces and paramilitary forces of Uttarakhand killed in action, with a rider that the cut-off date will be March 5, 2014.
This order was challenged in the HC, and the court ordered the government to pay this compensation to kin of all defence and security personnel who laid down their lives before 2014 as well. Initially, when three families of soldiers killed in action before 2014 approached HC for compensation, the state checked all records and was shocked to find that several thousand such families exist.
The state government then appealed in the SC pleading that if it has to comply with the HC order, its budget will fall short.
After advice from the legal department, the state government finally came up with ‘The Uttarakhand Martyr’s Dependent Ex-Gratia Act 2020’ on January 27, 2021. The second paragraph of the first chapter of the Act reads: “It shall be applicable to the widows and dependant of such martyrs of war, border skirmishes and internal security duties serving in defence forces or paramilitary forces who attained martyrdom on or after March 5, 2014, and are permanent residents of Uttarakhand.”
Additional secretary of the soldier welfare & rehabilitation department, CS Dharmshaktu, on Monday said so far 18 such cases that do not fulfil the eligibility criteria under the Act have been filed in HC.
“The apex court’s stay order is indeed a big relief to us,” Dharmshaktu said, adding, “There are hundreds of villages where in every house there is a soldier in the Armed forces and every second home is that of a jawan who laid down his life in the line of duty. The entire state budget will fall short if we would have to pay ex-gratia to all such families without a cut-off date.”