22 Jun 2023 5:15 AM GMT
A Full Bench of the Chhattisgarh High Court on Wednesday held that if Rules for ‘compassionate appointment’ prohibit appointment of family members of a deceased government employee on the ground that a family member is already in government service then the High Court cannot order enquiry to determine dependency of other family members upon that family member who is already a...
A Full Bench of the Chhattisgarh High Court on Wednesday held that if Rules for ‘compassionate appointment’ prohibit appointment of family members of a deceased government employee on the ground that a family member is already in government service then the High Court cannot order enquiry to determine dependency of other family members upon that family member who is already a government servant.
While answering the reference made by a Division Bench, the Full Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha, Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu observed,
“…this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India would not direct for holding enquiry qua dependency/financial support by one of the family members of the deceased Government servant who is already in Government service to the other family member of the deceased Government servant when a claim is made by other member of the family for compassionate appointment, as it would amount to rephrasing / rewording of the terms of the applicable scheme / policy for compassionate appointment, as such, such enquiry is totally barred.”
Than Singh Thakur, while working as Peon in a Government Girls College, died in harness being survived by widow, one son (the writ-petitioner/respondent herein) and two daughters, one of whom was already in government service.
The writ-petitioner filed an application claiming compassionate appointment on account of death of his father but it was rejected by the authority holding him ineligible for compassionate appointment as per the policy of the State Government, as one of his sisters was already working as Assistant Engineer.
Thus, the petitioner challenged the decision through a writ petition which a Single Judge Bench allowed and directed the competent authority to reconsider the claim of the petitioner afresh after conducting an enquiry for ascertaining the support which the petitioner is getting from his elder sister.
Disputed Question Of Law
The aforesaid decision was challenged by the government in a writ appeal before the Division Bench, which had referred the following question of law to the Full Bench for an authoritative decision as it could not agree to the view taken by another Division Bench in State of Chhattisgarh & Ors. v. Kevra Bai Markandey & Anr. (2022):
“When any dependent family member of deceased employee is already in Government service, in that circumstance whether any other member of the family would be deprived for employment on compassionate ground, without consideration of dependency of family on such Government employee?”
Court’s Analysis & Order
Before answering the reference, the Bench delved into discussion of relevant and contradictory precedents which necessitated the constitution of a Full Bench.
In Neeraj Kumar Uke v. State of Chhattisgarh (2021), a Division Bench of the High Court had held that when the scheme for compassionate appointment itself provides that no appointment shall be granted on compassionate ground, if any of the family members is in government service, no appointment can be claimed on the ground that the family member in government service is not giving any financial assistance.
Another Division Bench in State of Chhattisgarh and others v. Smt. Muniya Mukharjee (2022) had ruled that if any of the family members as provided under the scheme is already in government service, the other members of the family would not be eligible for compassionate appointment.
Also, in Purendra Kumar Sinha v. State of Chhattisgarh & Ors. (2022) the Court ruled that in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the writ court cannot direct the State Government to hold an enquiry qua dependency/financial support by one of the family members of the deceased government servant who is already in government service to the other family members of the deceased government servant.
Therefore, placing reliance on the above-mentioned judgments, a Division Bench of the Court in Kevra Bai Markandey (supra) had held that if a son of the deceased employee is already in government service, he would come within the meaning of a family of the deceased employee, and accordingly no other member of the family would be entitled for compassionate appointment.
Hence, the sole question that remained to be decided by the Full Bench was whether the law declared by the Division Bench in Kevra Bai Markandey is a good law. To answer the reference, the Full Bench relied upon the following observation made by the Supreme Court in State of Himachal Pradesh & Anr. v. Parkash Chand (2019):
“In the exercise of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution, it was not open to the High Court to rewrite the terms of the Policy. It is well settled that compassionate appointment is not a matter of right, but must be governed by the terms on which the State lays down the policy of offering employment assistance to a member of the family of a deceased government employee.”
It also underlined the recent decision of the Apex Court in Central Bank of India v. Nitin (2022), wherein it was held that consideration for appointment must be strictly in accordance with the prevalent rules for compassionate appointment applicable to the deceased employee.
Accordingly, the Court came to the conclusion that the decision rendered by the Division Bench in Kevra Bai Markandey is the appropriate exposition of law and held that when one of the family members of the deceased Government servant is already in government service and if the relevant rules prohibit consideration of other dependent of the deceased government servant for appointment on compassionate ground, then the Court would not direct for holding enquiry to ascertain dependency.
Also Read: Claim For Compassionate Employment Abates If Any Family Member Secures Govt Service Before Consideration Of Application: Chhattisgarh HC
Case Title: State of Chhattisgarh & Ors. v. Umesh Thakur
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Chh) 17
Case No.: Writ Appeal No. 236 of 2022
Date of Judgment: June 21, 2023
Counsel for the Appellant: Mr. S.C. Verma, Advocate General & Mr. H.S. Ahluwalia, Deputy Advocate General
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. Ashish Shrivastava, Senior Advocate & Mr. Aman Pandey, Advocate
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment