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Parents And Sister Of Deceased Workman Cannot Be Excluded From Availing Benefit Of Compassionate Appointment Scheme: Jharkhand HC [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
18 Sep 2019 9:14 AM GMT
Parents And Sister Of Deceased Workman Cannot Be Excluded From Availing Benefit Of Compassionate Appointment Scheme: Jharkhand HC [Read Judgment]

"The non-inclusion of the parents and sister of the deceased workman dying in harness, in the list of dependants to be appointed on compassionate ground, cannot be said to be based on any rational basis, rather this is wholly unfair and absolutely unjust."

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The Jharkhand High Court has held that non-inclusion of the parents and sister of the deceased workman dying in harness, in the list of dependants to be appointed on compassionate ground, is unjust and frustrates the very object the scheme for compassionate appointment.

The division bench comprising of the Acting Chief Justice H.C. Mishra and Justice Deepak Roshan was considering a writ petition in which the issue was whether sister and the mother of the deceased workman of Central Coalfields Limited, who were admittedly not included as dependents under Clause 9.3.3 of the National Coal Wage Agreement could be appointed on compassionate ground, in absence of there being any other dependent.

Clause 9.3.3 of the NCWA, which makes provision for employment of dependent of the workman who dies while in service, reads as follows:- "9.3.3 The dependent for this purpose means the wife / husband as the case may be, unmarried daughter, son and legally adopted son. If no such direct dependent is available for employment, brother, widowed daughter / widowed daughter-in-law or son-in-law residing with the deceased and almost wholly dependent on the earnings of the deceased may be considered to be the dependent of the deceased."

The bench noted, as per this clause, the brother of the deceased workman comes within the zone of consideration for appointment on compassionate ground in absence of wife, husband and unmarried daughter, son and legally adopted son. But the father, mother and sister of the deceased workman have been totally excluded from the list of dependants, though, it cannot be denied that an employee dying at a very young age, may be leaving behind father and mother, who were dependants upon him / her, still within the age of consideration of compassionate appointment.It observed:

Thus a plain reading of this provision clearly shows that if the workman dies unmarried, except for his / her brother, no other blood relative is within the consideration zone for employment on compassionate ground, though they may be fully dependent upon the earnings of the deceased workman at the time of his / her death in harness. We are of the considered view that so far as the parents of the deceased workman are concerned, the deceased was in a moral and legal obligation to maintain them and if he / she failed to maintain them, the action would lie under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. as well. In that view of the matter, there appears to be no reason as to why, such parents of the workman dying unmarried at an young age, be not included in the list of the dependants for being considered for compassionate appointment, if they are capable and otherwise eligible for the same. Excluding such parents of the deceased workman, cannot be said to be based on any plausible justification.

The bench also observed that there is no reason as to why, sister, whether married or unmarried, should be deprived of such benefit. Referring to Section 13 of the General Clauses Act, the bench observed that all the words importing the masculine gender shall be taken to include females and in that view of the matter also, if brother is included in the list of dependents under Clause 9.3.3 of NCWA, there is no reason as to why the word 'brother' shall not include sister also. It added:

"If a sister is denied the benefit of compassionate appointment only on the ground that she is not included as dependent under Clause 9.3.3 of NCWA, this is a clear case of gender bias and the same cannot be sustained in the eyes of law, also on the touchstone of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India."

The bench then directed Central Coalfields Ltd., to take steps for inclusion of the parents and sister of the workman dying in harness, in the definition of dependents under Clause 9.3.3 of the NCWA. It observed:

"The non-inclusion of the parents and sister of the deceased workman dying in harness, in the list of dependants to be appointed on compassionate ground, cannot be said to be based on any rational basis, rather this is wholly unfair and absolutely unjust. It is also not based on any intelligible differentia, and frustrates the very object the scheme for compassionate appointment. These immediate blood relations cannot be denied the benefit of compassionate appointment, if they are otherwise entitled for the same, simply because of the fact that they may be entitled to the compensation under the workman compensation benefits admissible under the Workmen's Compensation Act, as they fall within the definition of 'dependent', given in Section 2(1)(d) of the said Act." 


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