HC allows retirement benefits of deceased employee to second wife

The Bombay High Court has upheld a CAT order which allowed the plea of the second wife of a Union government employee to claim retirement benefits of her husband after his death, on the ground that the deceased had divorced his first wife.

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) is a competent court to hear matters pertaining to central government employees.

The deceased was working at the Ammunition Factory in Khadki near Pune. He passed away in January 2010 and nominated his second wife to receive all the retirement benefits, while cancelling the nomination in favour of his first wife whom he had divorced earlier.

In September 2013, the tribunal had passed an order allowing the plea of the second wife to receive the retirement benefits. Aggrieved by the order, the first wife challenged the CAT decision in the high court.

Hearing the parties, Chief Justice G H Waghela and Justice V K Tahilramani observed, "We also have to go by the fact that the first nomination in favour of the petitioner (first wife) was duly cancelled and a fresh nomination was filed separately by the deceased for Death-Cum-Retirement Pension, Provident Fund and Group Insurance benefits in favour of respondent No 5 (second wife).

"This application for nomination in favour of the respondent 5 (second wife) was filed along with the documents of divorce with the petitioner and nikahnama (marriage certificate) with respondent no 5 much prior to the death of the deceased," the bench said.

"The tribunal has considered all the facts and thereafter allowed the application filed by respondent 5. (In such case), no interference is called for (by the high court). Rule is discharged," the judges said in their order last week. Counsel for the petitioner Vinod Tayade argued that a valid talaqnama (divorce decree) was given by the deceased to the petitioner who was entitled to the retirement benefits as she was the first wife.

However, he was not able to explain as to how this claim can be sustained in view of cancellation of nomination of the petitioner filed by the deceased. The high court noted that it would not be possible for it to ignore the nomination made by the deceased in favour of the second wife.

The high court also observed that approximately six months prior to his death, the deceased had promptly informed his office about his second marriage and about his divorce. He had also told his office about the nomination filed in favour of the second wife relating to retirement benefits, the bench said.

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