During the Silver Jubilee year of Independence, a Central Scheme for grant of pension to freedom fighters and their eligible dependents (Where freedom fighters have already passed away) was introduced by Government of India with effect from 15.08.1972. In 1980, the Scheme was liberalized and renamed as Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme and made effective from 01.08.1980. Several provisions of the Scheme have been modified and clarified since then through different orders and circulars of the Government of India. With effect from the financial year 2017-18, the scheme is renamed as Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana (Office Memorandum No. 55/32/2015-FF(P) dated 20.02.2017).
General Administration (Freedom Fighters Pension) Department is the nodal agency in State Government of Kerala of the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana of the Freedom Fighters Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Following are the salient features of the scheme as provided by Government of India (http://pensionersportal.gov.in/Briefsssp.asp).
Who is eligible for Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana (SSSY)?
All the persons who participated in the freedom movement in some way or the other are not eligible for SSSY. Only following category of freedom fighters are eligible subject to furnishing of the specified evidences:-
2.1 Eligible dependents of martyrs:-A martyr is a person who died or who was killed in action or in detention or was awarded capital punishment due to participation in the freedom struggle of India. Relevant documents from official records and newspapers of the relevant time are considered as evidences in such cases.
2.2 Imprisonment:- A person who had suffered minimum imprisonment of six months (3 months in case of women, SC/ST freedom fighters) on account of participation in freedom struggle subject to furnishing of the following evidences:-
- Imprisonment/detention certificate from the concerned jail authority, District Magistrate or the State Govt. indicating the period of sentence awarded, date of admission, date of release, facts of the case and reasons for release.
- In case records of the relevant period are not available, the secondary evidences in the form of 2 co-prisoner certificates (CPC) from freedom fighters who have proven jail suffering of minimum 1 year and who were with the applicant in the jail could be considered provided the State Government/Union Territory Administration concerned, after due verification of the claim and its genuineness, certifies that documentary evidences from the official records in support of the claimed sufferings were not available. In case the certifier happens to be a sitting or Ex. M.P./ M.L.A., only one certificate in place of the two is required.
(Gist of relevant Circulars/Instructions issued by the Govt. of India under the Scheme regarding claims based on 'Imprisonment/Detention' is given in Appendix - I)
2.3 Underground:- A person who on account of his participation in freedom struggle remained underground for more than six months provided he was ;
A. a proclaimed offender; or
B. one on whom an award for arrest was announced; or
C. one for whose detention, order was issued but not served.
Explanation: Voluntary underground suffering or self-exile suffering for party work under command of the party leaders, are not covered as eligible sufferings under the Scheme.
The claim of underground suffering is considered subject to furnishing of the following evidence:-
- Documentary evidence by way of Court /Government orders proclaiming the applicant as an absconder, announcing an award on his head or for his arrest or ordering his detention. OR
- Where records of the relevant period are not available, a non-availability of records certificate (NARC) from the concerned State/Union territory Administration along with a Personal Knowledge Certificate (PKC) from a prominent freedom fighter who has proven jail suffering of a minimum two years and who happened to be from the same administrative unit.
(Gist of relevant Circulars/Instructions issued by the Govt. of India under the Scheme regarding claims based on 'Underground/ Abscondence' is given in Appendix - II.)
2.4 Internment/Externment:- A person who, on account of participation in the freedom struggle, was interned in his home or externed from his district for a minimum period of 6 months is eligible subject to furnishing of order of internment or externment issued by the competent authority, from official records. In absence of the official records, NARC from the State Govt./ UT Administration concerned, along with a certificate from prominent freedom fighter, who had proven jail sufferings of at least two years; who belonged to the same administrative unit and whose area of operation was same as that of the applicant, should be furnished.
(Gist of relevant Circulars/Instructions issued by the Govt. of India under the Scheme regarding claims based on 'Internment/Externment' is given in Appendix - III.)
2.5 Loss of property:- A person whose property was confiscated or attached and sold due to participation in the freedom struggle is eligible subject to furnishing of orders of confiscation and sale of property, provided that the persons whose property was restored are not eligible for SSSY.
(Gist of relevant Circulars/Instructions issued by the Govt. of India under the Scheme regarding claims based on 'Loss of Property' is given in Appendix - III.)
2.6 Permanent incapacitation:- A person who on account of participation in freedom struggle, became permanently incapacitated during firing or lathi charge subject to furnishing of:-
- certificate from the District Magistrate stating that permanent incapacitation was done by bullet injury/lathi charge sustained during participation in the National Freedom Struggle and
- Medical certificate from the Civil Surgeon in support of the handicap.
2.7 Loss of Government Job:- A person who lost his Govt. job for participation in freedom struggle is eligible subject to furnishing of orders of dismissal or removal from service. However, persons who were reinstated in service before expiry of two years from their dismissal or removal from service and were in receipt of benefits or pay and allowances are not eligible.
(Gist of relevant Circulars/Instructions issued by the Govt. of India under the Scheme regarding claims based on 'Loss of Government Job' is given in Appendix - III.)
2.8 Canning/Flogging/Whipping:- A person who was awarded the punishment of 10 strokes of caning/flogging/whipping due to his participation in freedom struggle is eligible subject to furnishing of copies of orders passed by the competent authority from official records.
(Gist of relevant Circulars/Instructions issued by the Govt. of India under the Scheme regarding claims based on 'Canning/Flogging/Whipping' is given in Appendix - III. )
Persons who consider themselves eligible, should apply in duplicate on the prescribed application form. The application, duly filled in and supported with required documents as proof of claim of suffering, should be sent to the Chief Secretary of the concerned State Government/Union Territory Administration. A copy of such application should be sent to the Deputy Secretary to the Government of India, FF Division, MHA, New Delhi as an advance copy. However, claims can be processed by the Central Govt. only on receipt of verification & entitlement report from the State Govt./ U.T. Administration concerned.
Cases Recommended by Committees
The Government of India had constituted certain non official Screening Committees, such as "Hyderabad Special Screening Committee", to scrutinize the claims in the cases where primary evidences from official records were not available due to efflux of time. These Committees consisted of the prominent freedom fighters who were leading lights of the movements for freedom of the nation or for merger of the princely states in the Union of India. The Committees were expected to recommend the genuine claims of freedom fighters who fulfilled the criteria as laid down in the Scheme. In other words, neither nature of the sufferings nor their period was relaxed in the cases considered by such Committees. Recommendation of the Committees is advisory in nature and the Govt. of India could accept or reject such recommendations. The cases recommended by the Committees could also be referred to the State Governments for such verification as was deemed appropriate.
Most common reasons for rejection of claims of SSSP
The following is an illustrative list of the most common reasons for rejection of claims or non-acceptance of the recommendation of a State Government under the SSSP Scheme 1980.
i. Non-submission of application in the prescribed form supported by specified evidences duly verified by the State Government.
ii. Non-recommendation of the claim by the State Government. Mere forwarding by the State Government does not amount to recommendation.
iii.Recommendation of the claim by the State Government without verification of the claimed sufferings and supporting evidences.
iv. Recommendation of the claim by the State Government ignoring its earlier non-recommendation without any fresh material evidences and valid justification.
v. Furnishing of CPCs or PKCs from ineligible/indiscriminate certifiers.
vi. Lack of or inappropriate or unacceptable NARC lacking vital information such as facts of the case, case number, dates etc. or NARC issued by the State Government or any other authority without verifying all possible sources as required in para-5 ibid.
vii. Contradictory claims made by the applicant from time to time in his applications/representations etc. or contradiction between the claims and evidences furnished.
viii. Forgery, mis-representation of facts regarding documents, age etc.
ix. Certifier and the applicant not belonging to the same districts (in case of underground sufferings).
x. Period of imprisonment of applicant not tallying with that of the certifiers in case of CPCs.
xi. Applicant claiming to be part of "others" mentioned in Court document pertaining to some case related to freedom struggle, without adducing reliable evidence in support of the claim.
APPENDIX - I
i.Certificate issued by the Police Station regarding period of imprisonment should not be relied upon. It should be from DM/SDM/Jail Superintendent or Superintendent Of Police - [Circular No. 8/53/73-FF.II dated 17.09.73]
(a) Pre-mature release due to Gandhi Irwin Pact or other General Amnesty orders after undergoing minimum imprisonment of 5 months may be considered eligible.
(b) Freedom fighters convicted by lower courts and who suffered imprisonment for at least six months should be considered eligible even if acquitted by Appellate Court provided it was not tendering an apology or giving an undertaking [Circular No. 8/1/74-FF(P) dated 06.06.74].
iii.Remission of a period up to 30 day in a sentence of six months should be taken into consideration - [Circular No. 8/24/74-FF(P)dated 23.08.74]
iv.Release on bail would not be a disqualification provided imprisonment suffering was for six months or more - [Circular No. 8/8/75- FF(P)dated 13.03.75]
v.Imprisonment and abscondence sufferings should be taken together for calculating six months - [Circular No. 8/32/76-FF(P)dated 28.10.76]
vi.Freedom Fighters who suffered imprisonment for a minimum six months but later gave evidence against other freedom fighters resulting in their conviction are not eligible- [Circular No. 8/39/76-FF(P)dated 24.12.76]
vii.In case of SC/ST freedom fighter, remission of the period up to 15 days in a conviction of three months may be considered - [Circular No. 8/39/81-FF(P)dated 01.09.81]
viii.Acceptance of CPCs from freedom fighters having proven jail sufferings of not less than one year in connection with the freedom struggle. [Circular No.8/4/83-FF(P) dated 31.1.83]
ix.Pre-mature release on medical grounds may be considered where the freedom fighter was sentenced for a minimum of six months but was released early. - [Circular No. 8/37/87-FF(P)dated 21.10.87]
APPENDIX - II
i.Persons who were underground for more than six months but charges against whom were withdrawn subsequently are not eligible - [Circular No. 8/1/74-- FF(P) dated 09.07.74]
ii.Imprisonment and abscondence sufferings should be taken together for calculating six months - [Circular No. 8/32/76-FF(P) dated 28.10.76]
iii.Clarifications regarding nature and definition of underground sufferings. Voluntary underground suffering does not qualify. - [Circular No. 8/12/81-FF(P) dated 22.04.81]
iv.Detailed compilation reiterating the existing instructions on underground/internment/externment sufferings issued clarifying inter alia that
(a) before recommending the cases for sanction on the basis of secondary evidences, the State Governments must satisfy themselves that the applicant was a genuine freedom fighter and the official records of that period were not available;
(b) the certifier issuing PKC should ordinarily belong to the same District as that of the certified;
(c) there should be no complaints about indiscriminate certification against the certifier;
(d)All cases based on secondary evidences like PKC should be submitted for consideration to the State Advisory Committee and extract of the proceedings of State Advisory Committee should be forwarded along with the recommendation to the Central Government for consideration - [Circular No.8/12/81-FF(P) dated 13.4.82].
APPENDIX - III
i.Loss of private job cannot be treated a ground under the scheme (Circular No.8/56/73-FF.II dated 12.02.74).
ii.Persons who were dismissed/removed/resigned from service and later reinstated/re-employed and/or given benefits including arrears of pay and pension are not eligible for FF Pension (Circular No.8/1/74-FF(P) dated 6.6.74).
iii.Loss of service under the District Board should be treated at par with the loss of Govt. service. (Circular No. 8/35/74-FF (P) dated 16.10.74)
iv.Where loss of Govt. job is for a long period, say, more than two years and reinstatement does not include payment of salary and other benefits, claims could be considered. [Circular No.8/33/87-FF(P) dated 29.9.88]
v.Persons whose property was confiscated or attached but later restored to them are not eligible for SSSY (Circular No.8/1/74-FF(P) dated 6.6.74).
vi.The manner in which cases of flogging/whipping/canning are to be considered and decided [Circular Nos.8/4/83-FF(P) dated 31.1.83 & 8/29/87-FF(P) dated 15.10.87]
vii.Nature and definition of internment/externment/underground sufferings clarified. Internment in one's village would not qualify - [Circular No.8/12/81-FF(P) dated 22.4.81]
OTHER RELEVANT CIRCULARS / INSTRUCTIONS UNDER THE SCHEME
Persons involved in heinous offences should not be considered under SSSY. [Circulars No.8/8/72-Ff.II dated 15.3.73 and 8/8/83-FF (P) dated 23.2.83]
PKCs to be accepted only after ascertaining that the certifier has actually undergone imprisonment for two years. [Circular No.8/66/82-FF(P) dated 4.6.84 read with Circular No.8/35/84-FF(P) dated 15.5.85]
Clarifications on NARC stating that material particulars must be given and the certificate should be from the State government after verifying from all the relevant sources. [Circular No. 8/12/95-FF(P) dated 7.1.96]
Revised guidelines on secondary evidences like NARC, PKC and CPC issued in compliance with directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Union of India Vs. R. V. Swamy, reported at AIR 1997 S.C. 2069. [Circulars No. 8/6/98-FF(P) dated 13.7.98 and 8/12/98-FF(P) dated 2.11.98.]
SSSY to be cancelled if the recipient is found indulging in anti-social activities over a long period for which he/she has been convicted more than once. [Circular No.8/25/78-FF(P) dated 10.8.78]
Clarifications regarding the manner in which the legal heirs are to be paid arrears of pension of deceased freedom fighter. [Circular No.8/49/75-FF(P) dated 29.9.77]
In order to rule out possibility of fake claims of family pension, the applicants to furnish an affidavit along with the joint photograph of spouse as well as unmarried daughters before issue of formal pension. [Circular No.8/17/89-FF(P) dated 18.5.92]
Kheksar Movement should not be treated as part of Freedom Movement. [ Circular No. 8/6/75-FF (P) dated 3.2.75]
Participants of the Mutiny of the personnel of the Indian Signal Corps at Jabalpore in 1946 should not be treated as freedom fighters. [ Circular No. 6/2/74-FF (P) dated August 1976]
The following Movements were not recognised for the purpose of pension under the Scheme-
(a)Daksha Morcha of Sialkot
(b) Kirpan Morchas
(c) Beopar Mandal Movement. [ Circular No. 6/4/74-FF(P) dated 22.1.75 ]
Participation and suffering in the following Movements/Mutinies would be covered by the state Freedom Fighters' Pension Scheme-
(a) Self - exile for securing freedom for Pondicherry
(b) Malabar Teachers' Struggle in Kerala (1939-40)
(c) Changnnur Riots case in Travoncore (1939-40)