Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Indrajit Mahanty, CJ. and S.G. Chattopadhyay, J. decided over a bunch of petitions which had a similar question pertaining to exclusion of married daughters from the die-in-harness scheme of the State Government.

The facts of the lead matter was that mother of respondent was a Group-D staff in the office of the Superintendent of Police (Procurement) under the Department of Home, Government of Tripura. She got the job on compassionate ground since her husband Shekhar Chakraborty died while in service. She expired on 07-11-2016 leaving behind two daughters. One of the daughter applied to the State Government seeking appointment on compassionate ground as per the die-in-harness scheme of the State Government. Since her application was kept pending without any decision, she filed petition in the court in front of Single Judge and an order was passed with directions to the respondents to consider her representation.

Pursuant to which State respondents considered the representation and passed an order rejecting respondent’s application on the ground that as she was a married daughter she was not eligible to compassionate appointment under die-in-harness scheme. This order was again challenged. Single Judge held that portion of the notification dated 19.05.2017 making exclusion of married daughters from the purview of the die-in-harness scheme was unconstitutional and directed the State respondents (appellants herein) to consider the application. Thus, the instant appeal was filed.

The Court explained that very object of die-in-harness scheme is to provide urgent relief to mitigate the hardships arising out of the death of the earning member of the family. Numerous situations can be contemplated where there may be none other than the married daughter to support the family of the deceased Government servant. Such a situation having arisen, object of the die-in-harness scheme to relieve the family of the deceased Government servant of emergent financial crisis by providing compassionate appointment to an eligible member would be frustrated if the married daughter, who is otherwise eligible for such appointment, is kept beyond the purview of the scheme only on the basis of her marital status. Marriage does not break the bond between a daughter and her parents as it does not do between a son and his parents. A crisis in the family of her parents equally worries a married daughter. As such, there is no rationale behind exclusion of a married daughter from the scheme.

The Court concluded that a die-in-harness policy inasmuch as it operates as a disqualification in the case of a married woman, as against a married man must be held to be discriminatory and such policy, tested on the touchstone of Articles 14 to 16 of the Constitution, cannot be held to be valid. Appeal was dismissed with directions to consider the applications for compassionate appointment received from the respondents afresh.[State of Tripura v. Debashri Chakraborty, 2022 SCC OnLine Tri 58, decided on 08-02-2022]

For Appellant(s): Mr D. Bhattacharya, GA. Mr M. Debbarma, Addl. GA. Mr Soumyadeep Saha

For Respondent(s): Mr P. Roy Barman, Sr. Adv., Mr Somik Deb, Sr. Adv., Mr H.K. Bhowmik, Mr Samarjit Bhattacharjee, Mr K. Nath and  Mrs R. Chakraborty

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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