Daughter gets divorced right after parent’s death. Can she claim compassionate appointment? SC explains

Supreme Court: In a case where a woman had sought compassionate appointment after her mother’s death in the year 2012, the bench of MR Shah* and Anirudhha Bose, JJ has held that the norms prevailing on the date of consideration of the application should be the basis of consideration of claim for compassionate appointment and since the word ‘divorced daughter’ has been added to Rule 3 of Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules 1996 subsequently by Amendment, 2021, the respondent was not entitled to compassionate appointment.

[Note: Rule 2[1] and Rule 3[2] of the Rules 1996 do not include ‘divorced daughter’ as eligible for appointment on compassionate ground and even as ‘dependent’. The same was added to Rule 3 recently by Amendment, 2021.]

However, as straightforward as the case might look, the facts had a very interesting story to tell.

  • The mother of the original writ petitioner, who was employed with the Government of Karnataka as Second Division Assistant at Mandya District Treasury, died on 25.03.2012. The respondent, at that time, was a married daughter.
  • Immediately on the death of the deceased employee, the respondent initiated the divorced proceedings under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on 12.09.2012 for decree of divorce by mutual consent.
  • By Judgment dated 20.03.2013, the Learned Principal Civil Judge, Mandya granted the decree of divorce by mutual consent.
  • Immediately on the very next day i.e. on 21.03.2013, the respondent, on the basis of the decree of divorce by mutual consent applied for appointment on compassionate ground.

Taking note of the aforementioned chronology of dates and events, the Court opined that only for the purpose of getting appointment on compassionate ground the decree of divorce by mutual consent has been obtained. Otherwise, as a married daughter she was not entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground.

Interestingly, the High Court had directed the appointing authority to grant compassionate   appointment to the respondent after interpreting Rule 3 of the Rules, 1996 by putting “divorced daughter” in the same class of an unmarried or widowed daughter.

The said judgment was, however, erroneous as per the ruling in N.C. Santhosh v. State of Karnataka, (2020) 7 SCC 617, wherein it was held that

(i) the compassionate appointment is an exception to the general rule;

(ii) 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.

Taking note of point number (v), the Court said 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.”

Calling the High Court’s decision erroneous, the Court said that

“…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, the respondent herein was not the ‘divorced daughter’ as she obtained  the divorce by mutual consent subsequent to the death of the deceased employee.

Hence, the respondent shall not be eligible for the appointment on compassionate ground on the death of her mother and deceased employee.

[Director of Treasuries in Karnataka v. V. Somyashree, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 704, decided on 13.09.2021]


[1] 2.   Definitions:­

(1)   In   these   rules, unless the context otherwise requires:­

(a) “Dependent   of   a   deceased   Government servant” means­

(i) in   the   case   of   deceased   male   Government servant, his widow, son, (unmarried daughter and widowed daughter) who were dependent upon him; and were living with him; and

(ii) in the case of a deceased female Government servant,   her   widower,   son,   (unmarried daughter   and   widowed   daughter)   who   were dependent upon her and were living with her;

(iii) ‘family’ in relation to a deceased Government servant means his or her spouse and their son,   (unmarried   daughter   and   widowed daughter) who were living with him.

(2)     Words   and   expressions   used   but   not defined shall have the same meaning assigned to   them   in   the   Karnataka   Civil   Services (General Recruitment) Rules, 1977.

[2] Rule 3(2)(ii):­

(ii)   in the case of the deceased female Government servant;

(a) a son;

(b) an   unmarried   daughter,   if   the   son   is   not eligible or for any valid reason he is not willing to accept the appointment;

(c) the widower, if the son and daughter are not eligible or for any valid reason they are not willing to accept the appointment.

(d) a widowed daughter, if the widower, son and unmarried daughter are not eligible or for any valid reason they are not willing to accept the appointment.


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

Know Thy Judge | Justice M. R. Shah

Appearances before the Court by:

For State: Advocate V.N. Raghupathy

For Respondent: Advocate Mohd. Irshad Hanif

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