Compassionate Employment Can't Be Claimed Several Years After Employee's Death As Its Object Is To Help Family To Meet Sudden Crisis : Supreme Court

Update: 2022-10-04 09:54 GMT

The Supreme Court on India last week discussed the how compassionate appointment in public services is an exception to the general rule of appointments and how it flows out of pure humanitarian consideration.

A Bench of Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari observed that the purpose of compassionate appointment is to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis, i.e., after the death of the sole bread-winner.
"Thus, as per the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions, compassionate appointment 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, 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."
These pertinent observations came while the Bench was considering a civil appeal which challenged two orders of the Kerala High Court asking the appellant company to consider the respondent's application for compassionate appointment.
14 years after the respondent's father's death, the respondent applied for a job with the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. on the grounds of compassionate appointment. Her application was rejected as her name was not in the list of dependents submitted by the deceased employee.
Aggrieved, the respondent moved the High Court, which asked the appellant to consider her application. The appellants, dissatisfied, moved a Division Bench of the High Court, which dismissed the appeal. This eventually prompted the appellants to move the Top Court.
Siddharth Jha, the counsel appearing for the appellants argued that the High Court shouldn't have entertained the respondent's petition seeking compassionate appointment. To reconsider the case of the respondent now for appointment on compassionate ground after 24 years would be against the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate ground, i.e., to meet out the difficulties created on account of sudden death of the sole bread earner.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh, for the respondent submitted that when the deceased employee died in the year 1995, the respondent was minor. And, on attaining the age of majority, the respondent daughter made an application for appointment on compassionate ground. In 2018, the respondent was called for the interview, however, at that time, the appointment was denied on the ground that in the dependent's list, the name of the respondent is not mentioned, which was found to be factually incorrect. Therefore, the respondent cannot be denied the appointment on compassionate ground on the ground of delay, it was argued.
The Top Court, after referring to various cases including N.C. Santhosh Vs. State of Karnataka, reiterated that the compassionate ground is a concession and not a right.
According to the Court, the respondent is not entitled the respondent entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground on the death of her father, who died in 1995.
"After a period of 24 years from the death of the deceased employee, the respondent shall not be entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground. If such an appointment is made now and/or after a period of 14/24 years, the same shall be against the object and purpose for which the appointment on compassionate ground is provided."
On these grounds, the Bench set aside the orders passed by the Single Judge as well as the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court.
Case Title: Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. & Ors Versus Anusree K.B | CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6958 OF 2022
Citation :  2022 LiveLaw (SC) 819
Compassionate Appointment -After a period of 24 years from the death of the deceased employee, the respondent shall not be entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground. If such an appointment is made now and/or after a period of 14/24 years, the same shall be against the object and purpose for which the appointment on compassionate ground is provided-
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. [Para 9.1, 9.2]

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