Karnataka HC directs defence dept to issue ID card to widow of ex-serviceman

BENGALURU: Acting swiftly on the request of a 52-year-old widow of an ex-serviceman, the Karnataka High Court directed the Sainik Welfare and Resettlement Department of Defence to issue ‘widow identity card’ to her and declare that she is entitled to all consequential benefits that would flow from the card.

Justice M Nagaprasanna passed the order, allowing the petition filed by the widow seeking directions to issue her an identity card which was ignored by the Joint Director of Sainik Welfare and Resettlement Department.

“What the Sainik Welfare and Resettlement Department ought to have had is lots of empathy and little sympathy towards the petitioner, as on the death of the husband, the sole bread winner of the family, the wife and family are driven to grave impecuniosities and would bea condemned by penury.

The plight and plea of the widow is blissfully ignored by the department which ought to have, without driving the petitioner to this court, issued a widow identity card. This court would not shut its doors in the peculiar facts of this case without redressing the invisible pain of the widow,” the court said.

The petitioner, a resident of Srinagar in Bengaluru, got married to the army man in 1987. The couple have a daughter who is now 28 years old. He resigned from the Indian Army and came out of the military service in 2006.

Because of a dispute, the husband filed the petition seeking dissolution of marriage in 2017 before the family court which granted an ex-parte decree of divorce in 2018 on the ground that the wife did not appear before it. She filed an application before the family court for recalling the ex-parte decree, saying her brothers-in-law forced her husband to get the ex-parte divorce to loot his property and salary. When that application was pending for consideration, the husband died.

The wife filed an application seeking to dismiss the matrimonial dispute. As the divorce proceedings were not finalised, she submitted a representation to the Sainik Welfare and Resettlement Department seeking the ID card, but it was not granted ostensibly on the score that she was no longer a widow of the ex-serviceman, as she was divorced during the lifetime of the husband. She then moved the high court.

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