Make way for the outsiders: Compassionate Appointment cannot be extended to heirs of the retiring employees, holds Supreme Court 

Supreme Court: In a case where the Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika/ Municipal Corporation was giving appointment to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has held that such appointment is contrary to the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds and is hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

In 2003, Ahmednagar Municipal Council was converted to Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika. In 1979, when the Municipal Council was in existence, an industrial dispute was raised by the Union with respect to the employment to be given to the heirs of the employees. At the relevant time, it was agreed by the Municipal Council that the employees in Class-IV category (if they die before their retirement) in all departments, except Health Department, if they become invalid, or if they retire, their heirs will be given appointment in their place. Consequently, by judgment and award dated 30.03.1981, the Industrial Court directed that the employees in Class-IV category, if they die before their retirement; if they become invalid, or if they retire, their heirs should be given appointment in their place.

The Supreme Court was of the opinion that,

  • firstly, the judgment and award of the Industrial Court was passed in the year 1981, when the Municipal Council was in existence.
  • secondly, once the Municipal Council was converted to Municipal Corporation/Mahanagar Palika, all the employees under Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation came to be governed by the scheme/rules & regulations framed by the State Government, which does not provide for any appointment on compassionate grounds or the appointment to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation/retirement.

Even otherwise, explaining the scope of compassionate appointment, the Court said that it shall always be treated as an exception to the normal method of recruitment. The appointment on compassionate grounds is provided upon the death of an employee in harness without any kind of security whatsoever. The appointment on compassionate grounds is not automatic and shall be subject to the strict scrutiny of various parameters including the financial position of the family, the economic dependence of the family upon the deceased employee and the avocation of the other members of the family. No one can claim to have a vested right for appointment on compassionate grounds. Therefore,

“appointment on compassionate grounds cannot be extended to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement. If such an appointment is permitted, in that case, outsiders shall never get an appointment and only the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement shall get an appointment and those who are the outsiders shall never get an opportunity to get an appointment though they may be more meritorious and/or well educated and/or more qualified.”

Hence, both the Judgment and award passed by the Industrial Court as well as the Bombay High Court in directing the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation to give appointment to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement, have been held to be unsustainable and hence, quashed and set aside.

[Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika v. Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika Kamgar Union, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1154, decided on 05.09.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah


For Municipal Corporation: Advocate Suhas Kadam

For Union: Advocate Iyer Shruti Gopal

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