Appointment on compassionate grounds is not a "vested right" which can be exercised despite a long period of time having passed since the employee's death, the Delhi High Court has held.
Upholding an order denying appointment on compassionate grounds to the son of a deceased Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) employee, Justice Pratibha Rani observed, "After 13 years of the demise of his father, the petitioner, who by now is a married man having a family, could not have been given compassionate appointment as it is not a vested right which can be exercised at any time. The purpose behind such an appointment is to provide immediate succor against destitution to the family of the deceased employee by giving due consideration to the services rendered by him till he was alive as well as to address a legitimate expectancy of the survivors seeking a financial tide over due to the sudden death of the sole earning member."
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by one Mr. Rakesh Kumar Singh Bisht, whose father passed away in September, 2005 while in service as a Phone Mechanic in BSNL in Uttaranchal Circle. Mr. Bisht was 19 at that time and applied for appointment on compassionate grounds the same year.
During the pendency of his application in 2007, BSNL introduced the 'weightage point system' for making such appointments. Under this system, only those with 55 or more net points on the relevant criteria are considered 'indigent' and eligible for such appointment. Mr. Bisht was then denied appointment on the ground that he had secured only 37 points on this scale.
He had now challenged the order, contending that any change or amendment to the policy cannot be implemented retrospectively. He had further pointed out that the effect of inordinate delay on the part of the authorities cannot be utilized to his disadvantage by relying on a policy issued during the pendency of his application.
At the outset, the Court noted the settled legal position in case of appointment on compassionate grounds and observed, "The legal position is well settled that appointment on compassionate ground is not a source of recruitment, but merely an exception to the requirement regarding appointments being made on open invitation of applications on merits. The underlying intention is on the death of the employee concerned, his family is not deprived of the means of livelihood. The object is to enable the family to get over the sudden financial crisis faced by them on the demise of the sole earning member."
Deprecating the practice of providing "backdoor entry" to dependents of such employees after long periods of time had elapsed, the Court further observed, "We have been noticing that the gesture of the employer towards the dependents in consideration of the services rendered by the deceased employee, has, in fact, become akin to a right to inherit. We cannot lose sight of the fact that there is cut-throat competition to seek public employment, but even after decades of the death of the employee, backdoor entry is being provided to the dependents of the deceased employee even when the family has already overcome the crisis."
It then noted that the delay in the Petitioner's application was due to the fact that both, him and his mother had staked a claim for the appointment and rapped the Petitioner for misusing the provision, observing,
"This writ petition is another glaring example of how in the name of compassion, even after the decades of the death of the bread earner of the family, the policy of the Government to provide employment to the dependent of the deceased employee to save the family from starvation, is being misused. Despite overcoming the crisis, if any, due to the death of the employee, the dependents continue to litigate to seek a back door entry in the name of compassion."