Kerala High Court: In an appeal against judgment dated 15-12-2023 passed by the Single Judge dismissing petition seeking directions for the authorities to issue Legal Heirship Certificate in the absence of certificate of adoption, the Division Bench of Alexander Thomas and C. Jayachandran, JJ. upheld the impugned judgment since there was no concrete evidence to prove the petitioner’s adoption by the deceased.
The petitioner in the original writ petition sought issuance of writ of mandamus to compel the District Collector and other authorities concerned to issue a Legal Heirship Certificate to the petitioner for her status as adoptive daughter of the deceased. The Single Judge Bench refused and dismissed the same in since the petitioner did not possess any certificate of adoption or a declaration from competent civil court in this regard.
As per facts, the petitioner was a Christian by birth whose mother died when she was 2 years old, and she lost her father at the age of 4 years. Thereafter, she was adopted by the deceased who was Hindu by religion. The petitioner resided with him until 18 when the deceased got her married to his sister’s son. The deceased died on 11-10-2019 while serving as a part time sweeper in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, GST, Karamana. The petitioner sought compassionate appointment under the dying-in-harness scheme, which was rejected by the Tahsildar, and appeal before the Sub-Collector was also dismissed on the advice of District Collector. It was informed that the deceased had nominated the petitioner for receiving death-cum-retirement gratuity while acknowledging her as his step-daughter. There were several other documents related to the deceased’s property, bank account, Will etc. depicting the petitioner as his adopted daughter.
The Court did not find any infirmity or illegality in the impugned judgment passed by the Single Judge and decided to dismiss the instant appeal. The Court perused the documents produced by the petitioner claiming to be the deceased’s adopted daughter. It was specifically pointed out that the petitioner was shown as the deceased’s ‘step-daughter’ and not adopted daughter in the nomination under Rule 76(a) of Kerala Service Rules Part III. In the settlement deed in favour of the petitioner, there was no recital to suggest adoption of petitioner by the deceased being treated as an adopted daughter in all respects, so was the case with Will.
The Court observed that “These averments are far below the legal requirement, even to suggest remotely a valid adoption of the petitioner by the deceased.” Even in another document produced before the Court, the term used was ‘foster daughter’, while the Court commented that “a recital to the effect that the petitioner is the adopted daughter of the deceased is conspicuously absent.”
The Court was not satisfied with the petitioner’s claims of being an adopted daughter of the deceased. In the absence of a valid and legal adoption, and documents evidencing the factum of adoption, the Court could not find any fault with the authorities refusing to issue Legal Heirship Certificate for the petitioner. It further said that “More than the absence of a legal document evidencing a legal adoption, what weigh with us to refuse the relief sought for is the complete dearth of evidence suggesting an inference as to the factum of adoption from the materials on record.”
The Court refused to address the questions related to petitioner’s qualification for compassionate appointment as last grade servant, and the question of post as part-time sweeper coming within the posts scheduled under compassionate appointment scheme. The Court relied on Maxin George v. Indian Oil Corporation, 2005 SCC OnLine Ker 269 decided for similar circumstances. Therefore, the Court dismissed the instant petition for being devoid of any merit.
[X v. State of Kerala, 2023 SCC OnLine Ker 6712, decided on 7-08-2023]
Judgment by: Justice C. Jayachandran
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Appellant: Advocate S. Balachandran (Kulasekharam), Advocate V.R. Gopu;
For State: Advocate General of Kerala, Senior Government Pleader Saigi Jacob Palatty.