The second wife discovered, to her chagrin, that she wasn’t eligible for a pension as Army records still mention the long-estranged first wife of the deceased as his legal heir.
The idea of drafting such a certificate came from the Army brass at Nagpur’s Kamptee cantonment after it transpired that the soldier’s first wife deserted her husband soon after their wedding and has been incommunicado since.
Although the soldier married again and spent the rest of his life with the second wife, nothing changed in the Army records in the absence of divorce proceedings with his first spouse.
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The soldier died last year, leaving his second wife to deal with more than just grief at his passing. Her family pension has been frozen for over a year, pending clearance from the authorities.
“While the rule book has no provision for an elopement certificate, officials at the cantonment decided to seek special permission to ensure the woman is recognised as an Army widow and gets her pension,” a source said.
Service rules specify that family pension goes to the first wife unless the husband remarries after a legal separation or her death.
The veterans’ branch of Uttar Maharashtra and Gujarat sub-area recently received an official seal on the elopement certificate, paving the way for the soldier’s second wife to get the status of a legal spouse.
The pro forma for the certificate states that the first wife deserted her husband and could not be contacted for divorce. It also states that the soldier’s second marriage was in accordance with Hindu rites.
After an elected representative gave his seal, the second marriage was legalised, Army sources said.
The certificate has been sent to the Army’s pension office in Allahabad for processing.
“Such certificates are issued after due diligence to prevent misuse. The veterans’ office did not endorse a similar certificate in another case involving a second marriage without divorce, more so because the first wife could have been contacted for proceedings,” an official said.
In another case, a soldier’s widow got her marriage certificate at the age of 85. Her husband had quit the Army after four years, making him ineligible for pension. But his wife was entitled to a pension of Rs 4,000 after his death. The woman only needed to prove her marital status.
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