Maharashtra Govt to Grant Financial Benefits to Martyr Army Major’s Wife

Major Anuj Sood

The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Wednesday of its decision to provide financial benefits to the family of an Army Major who was killed in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir four years ago.

Major Anuj Sood’s Wife

Aakriti Sood, the widow of Major Anuj Sood, had approached the high court seeking monetary benefits for ex-servicemen under two government resolutions of 2019 and 2020.

Major Sood lost his life on May 2, 2020, while rescuing civilian hostages from terrorist hideouts and was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra.

Initially, the state government had stated that Sood’s family was not eligible for the benefits and allowances as the resolutions were applicable only to those born in Maharashtra or who had a continuous residence of 15 years in the state.

The Bench

A division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla had previously directed the government to consider Sood’s case as special and exceptional and to extend the benefits. The court had warned that if the government failed to do so, it would issue appropriate orders.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf informed the bench on Wednesday that the government had decided to grant benefits to Sood’s family as a special case. The government would provide a sum of Rs one crore (Rs 60 lakh to Aakriti and Rs 40 lakh to Sood’s father) along with a monthly payment of Rs 9,000 to Aakriti.

The bench praised the government’s decision, stating that it had shown respect for a difficult situation. The court remarked, “These are real human agonies. There is always an exception…It is a special case.”

“We highly appreciate the stand taken by the chief minister and the state government in considering the petitioner’s case as a special case and granting benefits,” the court added.

The bench disposed of the petition, directing the expedited disbursal of the amount.

The Plea

In her plea, Aakriti Sood had challenged the communication received from the government on August 26, 2020, denying benefits on the grounds that Sood was neither born in Maharashtra nor had resided in the state for the last 15 years. She argued that the family had been residing in Maharashtra for the last 15 years, as per her late husband’s wishes, who always intended to reside in Pune, Maharashtra.

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