In a classic case that highlights the government apathy, a widow had to run from pillar to post for 18 years to get her pension restored after it was cancelled by the BMC officials. The officials received a false complaint from the State Bank of India (the pension dispensing agency) that the woman had remarried.
Despite her repeated visits and efforts the BMC officers never cared to inquire into the complaint until the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) intervened and ordered an inquiry that proved the complaint to be not serious enough.
After an 18-year-long fight, Manjula L Ambore, a Vile Parle resident, finally received justice after the MSHRC in a recent order directed the BMC to pay her arrears of around Rs 2.65 lakhs and a compensation of Rs50,000. The commission has also asked the municipal commissioner of BMC to take action against the concerned officials, who are responsible for her plight.
"The BMC officials have slept over the matter for more than about 18 years and only after the notice was issued by the commission, have they finally woken up like Rip Van Winkle and fortunately taken the right action. In my view, however, this does not absolve the indifference, negligence on the part of the concerned officials that too against a poor widow, who has been harassed for so long," noted MSHRC member, Bhagwant D More, in an order passed on April 30.
As per Manjula's complaint, her husband Laxman B Ambore, was employed with the conservation department of BMC and passed away in May 1984, after a prolonged illness. After his demise, Manjula continued to get her pension regularly till 1996. However, the pension was suddenly stopped without any valid reason. A worried Manjula rushed to BMC to inquire about the reason and was informed that the department has received a complaint through the State Bank of India (the pension dispensing agency) that she has remarried and is no longer entitled to the pension.
A shocked Manjula over the next few years visited BMC with repeated requests and representations to conduct an inquiry to ascertain that the complaint was not true. However, her requests fell on deaf ears until she approached the commission in 2011.
Reacting to the complaint, the commission summoned BMC officials and sought a report in the case. A shameless BMC then in its own report accepted that the stoppage of pension was incorrect as Manjula never remarried.