HC directs state to provide employment on compassionate grounds to wife of frontline warrior who died during Covid-19 pandemic

Helping a woman whose husband, a health inspector, died during the Covid-19 pandemic, a Madras High Court bench has directed the state to consider her representation and provide her with compassionate employment.

The court was hearing a petition filed in 2021 by M. Sharmila Banu of Dindigul. The petitioner’s husband, M. Nainar Mohamed, who served as a first-class health inspector in Dindigul, a frontline warrior, died of cardiac arrest in November 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While working, the petitioner’s husband took advantage of the House Building Advance (HBA) program to build a house. A sanction of Rs 25 lakh was imposed in favor of her husband. Unfortunately, the petitioner’s husband died within days of receiving the first installment of Rs 12.50 lakh.

In these circumstances, in 2021, the authorities issued an order directing the petitioner to pay an amount of ₹12.50 lakh along with interest towards the first installment of HBA paid to the petitioner’s husband failing which the amount would be deducted from the final benefits of the petitioner’s husband. Challenging the same, the present petition was filed. The authorities retained the total pension amount of Rs 9.17 lakh awarded to the petitioner’s husband’s contributory scheme.

Justice L. Victoria Gowri noted that the authorities should have approached the case with great compassion, kindness and social responsibility. It was the duty of the court to safeguard the livelihood of the petitioner and her mother-in-law as a tribute to her husband’s greatest service during the Covid-19 pandemic as a frontline warrior.

The court quashed the order issued by the authorities and directed the state to provide compassionate employment to the petitioner based on her educational qualifications within four weeks.

The petitioner was directed to collect the sanctioned amount of Rs 9.17 lakh by submitting a receipt to the Contributory Pension Scheme. In view of the appointment of the petitioner to the relevant post, the authorities were directed to deduct an amount of `10,000 per month from the date of each monthly salary towards the first installment of the HBA loan of `12.50 lakh and waive interest on the loan amount.

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