Supreme Court: Dependent Cannot Seek Compassionate Appointment On Higher Post Than Held By Deceased Employee

The Supreme Court  observed that a dependent/applicant cannot seek compassionate appointment on the higher post than what was held by the deceased employee.

The Court observed that the appointment on compassionate ground is a concession and not a right. It is an exception to the general rule of appointment in the public services and is in favour of the dependents of a deceased dying in harness and leaving his family in penury and without any means of livelihood, the bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna observed.

In this case, the deceased employee at the time of his death was posted and serving as Messenger in Police Radio Department of Uttar Pradesh (Class­ IV). The Single Bench of the High Court dismissed the  writ petition filed by the widow of the deceased employee on the ground that as the deceased employee was Class­ IV employee and she has also been offered appointment on a Class ­IV post, she cannot claim the appointment on compassionate ground on the post of Workshop Hand or on any other suitable Class­ III post. In appeal, the Division bench allowed her writ petition observing that  appointment under Rule 5 of Dying­ In ­Harness Rules 1974 is required to be given on a “suitable post” and the term ‘suitable’ in Rule 5 pertains to suitability of the person who desires for appointment and it has nothing to do with the post held by the deceased government servant.

In appeal before the Apex Court, the Government contended that ‘suitable post’ mentioned in Rule 5 of Rules 1974 has to be construed considering the educational qualification of dependent vis­à­vis the post held by the deceased employee. 

Agreeing with the said argument, the court observed that the ‘Suitable post’ has to be considered, considering status/post held by the deceased employee and the educational qualification/eligibility criteria is required to be considered, considering the post held by the deceased employee and the suitability of the post is required to be considered vis a vis the post held by the deceased employee.

“10.2…….Otherwise there shall be no difference/distinction between the appointment on compassionate ground and the regular appointment. In a given case it may happen that the dependent of the deceased employee who has applied for appointment on compassionate ground is having the educational qualification of Class­II or Class­I post and the deceased employee was working on the post of Class/Grade IV and/or lower than the post applied, in that case the dependent/applicant cannot seek the appointment on compassionate ground on the higher post than what was held by the deceased employee as a matter of right, on the ground that he/she is eligible fulfilling the eligibility criteria of such higher post. The aforesaid shall be contrary to the object and purpose of grant of appointment on compassionate ground which as observed hereinabove is to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis on the death of the bread earner.”, the court said while allowing the appeal.

The court made the following observations in the judgment:

The compassionate ground is a concession and not a right.

Referring to a recent judgment in Director of Treasuries in Karnataka vs. V. Somashree, the court observed: 

9. As per the law laid down by this court in catena of decisions on the appointment on compassionate ground, for all the government vacancies equal opportunity should be provided to all aspirants as mandated under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. However, appointment on compassionate  ground offered to a dependent of a deceased employee is an exception to the said norms. The compassionate ground is a concession and not a right.

The whole object of granting compassionate employment is thus to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis.

Referring to State of Himachal Pradesh vs. Shashi Kumar reported in (2019) 3 SCC 653, Govind Prakash Verma vs. LIC reported in (2005) 10 SCC 289, the bench observed:

10. Thus as per the law laid down by this court in the aforesaid decisions, compassionate appointment is an exception to the 16 general rule of appointment in the public services and is in favour of the dependents of a deceased dying in harness and leaving his family in penury and without any means of livelihood, and in such cases, out of pure humanitarian consideration taking into consideration the fact that unless some source of livelihood is provided, the family would not be able to make both ends meet, a provision is made in the rules to provide gainful employment to one of the dependants of the deceased who may be eligible for such employment. The whole object of granting compassionate employment is thus to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis. The object is not to give such family a post much less a post held by the deceased.

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