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Too Choosy for Comfort

In a case where a deceased driver’s son wanted compassionate appointment as a junior engineer, the Karnataka High Court said this cannot be sought as a matter of right and for a particular post

The Karnataka High Court recently held that compassionate appointment cannot be sought as a matter of right. It said this while rejecting a petition seeking direction to authorities to consider the claim of the deceased’s son (second petitioner) for appointment as a junior engineer (civil), Class-III Supervisory cadre, on compassionate grounds under the existing policy.

The petition was filed by the wife and son of the deceased who was a senior driver in Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). They questioned the endorsement date of January 2019 calling upon the son to submit his application if he was willing to get appointed as Grade-III Junior Assistant-cum-Data Entry Operator/ Driver/Conductor/Driver-cum-Conductor/ Technical Assistant or Security Guard in accordance with the rules regarding compassionate appointment of the Corporation. 

The driver died while in service in September 2011. On his death, his widow submitted an application in April 2012 seeking compassionate appointment for her son. However, in November 2012, the son submitted an application seeking compassionate appointment to the post of Junior Engineer (Civil) as he as a qualified civil engineering graduate.

The Court held: “Compassionate appointment cannot be sought as a matter of right. Moreover, the compassionate appointment cannot be sought against a particular post. Compassionate appointment could be provided in accordance with the Rules or Scheme available in the State or concerned Institution. The purpose and object of providing companionate appointment is to see that family of the deceased servant gets over immediate financial distress due to the sudden death of the bread winner.”

Initially, an endorsement was issued stating that there was no vacancy of junior engineer (civil), and his name would be included in the waiting list for appointment on compassionate grounds. KSRTC had taken a decision not to make compassionate appointment to the Supervisory Posts Grade-III. An endorsement in September 2018 was issued to the petitioners calling upon the son to submit his application for the post of Junior Assistant-cum-Data Entry Operator. Under endorsement of January 2019, the petitioner was asked to submit his application to get appointment to Grade-III security guard post within five days. To this, the petitioner sent a letter in January 2019 that he was not interested in Grade-III security guard post.

A single bench of Justice SG Pandit observed that the purpose and object of providing compassionate appointment is to see that the family of the deceased employee overcomes financial difficulty due to the sudden death of the breadwinner. The bench noted that the breadwinner died in 2011 and thereafter, employment offered by the Corporation was not accepted by the son of the deceased. If there was necessity of employment due to the death of the breadwinner, the son ought to have accepted the offer of the Corporation to appoint him as Grade-III security guard or Junior Assistant-cum-Data entry operator. Instead, the son insisted on appointment to a particular post i.e., junior engineer (civil).

The Court said: “….when compassionate appointment cannot be sought as a matter of right, at the same time has no right to seek compassionate appointment to a particular post. When the petitioners are able to survive without compassionate appointment for more than a decade, it means, they may not require appointment much less for compassionate appointment”.

In December last year, the Allahabad High Court while allowing a petition observed that the UP Recruitment of Dependants of Government Servant Dying in Harness Rules 1974 nowhere provides that the compassionate appointment of an appointee is temporary in nature.

In the same month, the High Court refused to give a compassionate appointment to the married brother of an unmarried deceased employee. It said that a married brother cannot claim compassionate appointment. The petitioner had questioned the decision whereby his claim for compassionate appointment was rejected on the ground that he was a married brother of the deceased employee. 

The Court noted that according to Rule 2(c) of Dying in Harness Rules, 1974 (amended on 12.10.2001), “family” shall include the following relations of the deceased government servant—wife or husband; sons/ adopted sons; unmarried daughters, unmarried adopted daughters, widowed daughters and widowed daughter-in-law; unmarried brothers and sisters and widowed mother dependant on the deceased government servant if that person was unmarried; aforementioned relations of a missing government servant who had been declared “dead” by the competent court. If these relations are not available or found to be physically and mentally unfit and thus ineligible for employment, then only the word “family” shall include grandsons and unmarried grand-daughters who were dependant on the deceased.

In the same year in August, the Allahabad High Court while dismissing the petition held that compassionate appointment cannot be granted after a lapse of 26 years from the death of the employee. Justice JJ Munir passed this order while hearing a petition challenging the order of January 2023 passed by the assistant GM and regional head of a bank, rejecting the petitioner’s application seeking compassionate appointment in his mother’s stead.

In a case of relaxation of the normal recruitment rules, in September 2022, the Allahabad High Court said compassionate appointment can’t be denied where the spouse has retired prior to the death of the wife, while disposing of a petition. A single-judge bench of Justice Rajan Roy passed this order while hearing a petition seeking compassionate appointment consequent to the death of the petitioner’s mother who died in June 2018. The Court noted that in case a government servant dies in harness after the commencement of these rules and the spouse is not already employed under the central or  state government or a Corporation owned or controlled by governments, one member of his family who is not already employed under these three categories shall be given employment in a post except that which is within the purview of the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission.

Further, Justice Neeraj Tiwari of the Allahabad High Court said the benefit of compassionate appointment cannot be given to a sister in the presence of a wife. The wife has the first right on compassionate appointment.

In another case, the same High Court dismissed a petition seeking compassionate appointment, noting that the year in which the petitioner had sought appointment, the term “adopted son” was not included under the definition of family. 

—By Shivam Sharma and India Legal Bureau

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