“The Law is an Ass” By Devil’s Advocate

The great Lord Denning had once said that the Law is an Ass. When he said so he had meant that there is too much burden on the Law. However when we look at some of the meaningless laws in our country, Lord Denning’s words could be given a different meaning altogether. Here is a strange case involving the laws of the Border Security Force which by any sense of imagination cannot be termed as meaningful. You could call it a case of redtapism or a case of oversight or maybe even sheer legal hairsplitting. A constable in the Border Security Force whose wife was killed in a militant attack was not granted ex-gratia, “Because she was not abducted” before being killed.

This is what the relevant rule (paragraph 8 of the Official Memorandum of the BSF) states: a BSF personnel cannot claim ex-gratia for his wife’s death unless she had been “abducted and then killed”.

Munirajappa, who retired from service during the course of his 8-year-old legal battle for ex-gratia, is also physically disabled.

He has no choice but to continue his legal battle after he was told that he would have been granted exgratia “if his wife had been abducted and then killed” instead of being “killed directly. ”Col Bhupinder Singh (Retd), counsel for Munirajappa, says the problem here is that the BSF does not have its own pension regulations and is dependent on the Central Civil Services Rules.

Munirajappa, a resident of Bangalore, enrolled in the BSF on July 20, 1985, and was posted at Bandipur, Jammu and Kashmir section, in February 1994. He was permitted to take wife Bharathi along and provided accommodation by the force.

On July 13, 1999, at around 2 pm, Pakistan militants raided the BSF camp where the couple was staying. The insurgents entered began firing indiscriminately and before the family realised what was happening, Munirappa’s daughter was hit by a bullet. Bharathi while trying to save her child also was hit by a bullet.

While the daughter survived, Bharathi succumbed to injuries after undergoing two rounds of surgery. Munirajappa wrote to the authorities concerned, claiming payment of ex-gratia on his wife’s account. He wrote several letters and finally on February 12, 2001 the Ministry of Home Affairs responded, rejecting his claim on the ground that the grant was applicable only to the members of the force and not their kith and kin.

Following this, he approached the Karnataka High Court where Justice N K Patil directed that the matter be considered afresh. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs rejected his claim on the ground that his wife was, “not abducted and then killed”.

Strange isn’t it. But this is the law my friends.




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