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Time is of the essence in cases of Compassionate Appointment

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A division bench of Supreme Court comprising of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hrishikesh Roy heard two cases today, dealing with compassionate appointments of two different kinds.

While one case involved the question of the family of a government employee who died in harness, the other case involved question of appointment of a landowner in a government job, whose land was acquired by the government under the Land Acquisition Act.

While compassionate appointments are generally associated to appointments given to family member of government employees who die in harness in term of their government job, the court was clearly of the opinion that the latter case where appointment is given for rehabilitation of a person whose land has been acquired by the government, would also be compassionate appointment and thus should fulfil its objectives.

In the first case (The general manager, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. vs PurusottamPadhiary ) the land owned by petitioner had been acquired by the State Government under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the purpose of establishing LPG Bottling Plant of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. Even though he received compensation for the acquisition, he wasn’t given appointment, as was decided in a meeting between Government and IOCL.

The High court of Orissa while hearing the case had explained the purpose of compassionate appointments and how depriving the petitioner of such an appointment would be depriving him of his Right to livelihood, and also his Right to Liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The basic objective of giving compassionate appointment is the laudable benefit to a person, who is deprived of getting earning throughout his life. A situation where the family is left jobless, or homeless or has to move around with begging bowl for their sustenance, frustrates the objective of compassionate appointments. The Court had also explained that depriving the petitioner of such appointments when his counterparts were appointment, would be violating Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Justice Chandrachud today agreed with the decision of the High Court and refused to interfere.

The second writ petition (Uma Goyal vs Union of India) was filed by the daughter of a government employee who had died in harness, and the family’s applications for compassionate appointments were rejected multiple times. The petitioner’s application was rejected firstly on the ground that she had applied for her appointment 20 years after the death of her father. The Government, however agreed to let her file a fresh application based on a government circular that removed the time limit of 15 years prescribed to apply for appointments in these cases.

The Delhi High Court, while explaining the fundamental premise on which compassionate appointments are granted, stated that compassionate appointments are not regular source of recruitment, but only a way to deal with immediate financial distress. It’s granted only with a view to enable family of deceased government servant who dies in harness to tide over the immediate financial distress that family is plunged into.

The High Court was also perplexed to observe the stand that the circular removed time limit on such appointments and also stated that such a policy goes contrary to to fundamental basis on which compassionate appointments are granted.

Justice Chandrachud refused to interfere with the order of the High court today and stated that compassionate appointment can not be demanded 27 years after the death of the employee, and when the family is educated and settled.

It can therefore be concluded from these two orders that compassionate appointments can be provided for rehabilitation of a person, and to enable him to deal with the financial distress, and time is of the essence, even in cases of compassionate appointments.

By Srishti Ojha



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