Hebe Benjamin, the 94-year-old widow of Late Col George Benjamin of Army Engineers, is expected to finally get the entitled family pension which has been due for almost 30 years amounting to more than Rs 75 lakhs after she expressed her grievance in her letter to PM Narendra Modi regarding the same.
According to a report by India Today, after Hebe Benjamin’s several requests to the MoD for the restoration of family pension for over 29 years did not yield any result, she wrote a letter to PM Modi requesting him to personally intervene to fast track the process.
Manpreet Kant, a family friend who also wrote many letters to MoD requesting the same, said, “As a last resort she wrote to PM Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). She requested their personal intervention to ensure her plea be a fast track and family pension be restored with arrears and interest.”
The Prime Minister’s Office sought all facts on the case. The defence minister directed the case be pursued on a war footing and ordered immediate grievance redressal, Kant added.
The family pension with all pending arrears is expected to be deposited in her account by January 31. If interest and arrears are paid for all the intervening pay commissions then the figure could even cross Rs 1 crore.
Col Benjamin had served in the Corps of Engineers and retired in 1966. He was the 2003rd officer to be commissioned in the Indian Army post-independence.
Manpreet Kant, while speaking to India Today said that once Col passed away in 1990, his family, who had relocated to Israel by then, stopped receiving the pension. The family wrote to the deputy adjutant in the Adjutant General’s branch repeatedly but the response was negative. Hebe Benjamin and her daughter even approached the Indian ambassador in Israel. But till July 24, 2018, all the responses received from the government were negative.
“Her husband had passed away in 1990. His pension stopped. The family sought arrears be calculated keeping in mind the 5th, 6th and 7th Pay Commission and interest on pension denied for 29 years. In 1998 she received a letter from Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) (PCDA) Allahabad that pension could be released only after the President decided on the matter. And then there was total silence on the issue,” confirmed Kant.
However, now with the PMO intervention and with directions from the defence minister, the matter is expected to be resolved by the end of this month.