Man declared dead 14 years after going missing

New Delhi: A woman had to fight a 14-year- long legal battle to have her husband, missing since 1997, declared dead by a city court to claim his pension, despite the law saying a person will be presumed dead if not heard of for seven years.

"Pratap Singh is declared to be presumed dead and MCD Commissioner is directed to issue missing-cum-death certificate in this respect and Secretary Pension and Trust, Delhi Transco Ltd is directed to release General Provident Fund, family pension and other benefits to the petitioner as per her entitlement," said additional senior civil judge Gautam Manan, bringing an end to the ordeal of Yashoda Devi.

The court gave its order citing Section 108 of the Indian Evidence Act, which says a person is presumed dead "if he has not been heard of for seven years by those who would have naturally heard of him had he been alive."

The court`s order came on the plea of the Delhi Transco Ltd employee`s wife, who had to face hardships to have Singh`s pension released.

While Delhi Transco Ltd refused to release the pension in absence of his death certificate, MCD refused to issue the certificate for a missing person.

"In view of the fact that there is no evidence that Pratap Singh has been heard after June 23, 1997, the petitioner is entitled for relief claimed by her," the court said.

Yashoda`s ordeal began on June 23, 1997, when her husband did not return from his office at Nehru Place in south Delhi.

She and her family members, after making unsuccessful attempts to find him, lodged a missing person report with the police, which too failed to trace him and declared him untraceable in 2006.

After police declared him untraceable, Yashoda approached Delhi Transco Ltd for the pension, but got embroiled in bureaucratic wrangling instead and eventually moved court to get her dues.