The Supreme Court set aside a Karnataka High Court judgment that held that a divorced daughter would fall in the same class of an unmarried or widowed daughter for the purpose of Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules, 1996.
The bench of Justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose reiterated that norms prevailing on the date of consideration of the application should be the basis of consideration of claim for compassionate appointment.
In this case, the writ petitioner's mother was employed with the Government of Karnataka as Second Division Assistant at Mandya District Treasury. After she died, the writ petitioner filed an application for appointment on compassionate appointment. That was rejected on the ground that there is no provision provided under Rule 3(2)(ii) of Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules 1996 for divorced daughter. Later, the Karnataka High Court directed to consider the application.The High Court interpreted Rule 3 and observed that a divorced daughter would fall in the same class of an unmarried or widowed daughter and therefore, a divorced daughter has to be considered on par with 'unmarried' or 'widowed daughter'.
In appeal, the court summarized the observations made about the grant of appointment on compassionate ground in earlier judgments including the recent one on N.C. Santhosh vs. State of Karnataka (2020) 7 SCC 617:
(i) that the compassionate appointment is an exception to the general rule;
(ii) that no aspirant has a right to compassionate appointment;
(iii) the appointment to any public post in the service of the State has to be made on the basis of the principle in accordance with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India;
(iv) appointment on compassionate ground can be made only on fulfilling the norms laid down by the State's policy and/or satisfaction of the eligibility criteria as per the policy;
(v) the norms prevailing on the date of the consideration of the application should be the basis for consideration of claim for compassionate appointment.
Referring to the Rules, the court noted that only 'unmarried daughter' and 'widowed daughter' who were dependent upon the deceased female Government servant at the time of her death and living with her can be said to be 'dependent' of a deceased Government servant and that 'an unmarried daughter' and 'widowed daughter' only can be said to be eligible for appointment on compassionate ground in the case of death of the female Government servant.
"As observed hereinabove and even as held by this Court in the case of N.C. Santhosh (Supra), the norms prevailing on the date of consideration of the application should be the basis of consideration of claim for compassionate appointment. The word 'divorced daughter' has been added subsequently by Amendment, 2021. Therefore, at the relevant time when the deceased employee died and when the original writ petitioner – respondent herein made an application for appointment on compassionate ground the 'divorced daughter' were not eligible for appointment on compassionate ground and the 'divorced daughter' was not within the definition of 'dependent.'", the court observed.
The court also noticed that the writ petitioner had, immediately on the death of the deceased employee, initiated the divorced proceedings under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for decree of divorce by mutual consent. This would suggest that only for the purpose of getting appointment on compassionate ground the decree of divorce by mutual consent has been obtained, the court added. It also noted that at the time when the deceased employee died on 25.03.2012 the marriage between the respondent and her husband was subsisting.
"Therefore, at the time when the deceased employee died she was a married daughter and therefore, also cannot be said to be 'dependent' as defined under Rule 2 of the Rules 1996. Therefore, even if it is assumed that the 'divorced daughter' may fall in the same class of 'unmarried daughter' and 'widowed daughter' in that case also the date on which the deceased employee died she – respondent herein was not the 'divorced daughter' as she obtained the divorce by mutual consent subsequent to the death of the deceased employee. Therefore, also the respondent shall not be eligible for the appointment on compassionate ground on the death of her mother and deceased employee.", the bench said while setting aside the High Court judgment.
Case: Director of Treasuries in Karnataka vs. V. Somyashree ; CA 5122 OF 2021
Citation: LL 2021 SC 449
Coram: Justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose