rajasthan high court

Rajasthan High Court: In a case wherein by special appeal, the appellant had challenged the order dated 28-09-2022, the Division Bench of Dr. Pushpendra Singh Bhati* and Rajendra Prakash Soni, JJ., opined that in the society, a daughter-in-law, who might be a widow, was always treated as an integral member of the family and possessed all honour and responsibilities of the household. Thus, the Court noted that it failed to understand as to how the widowed daughter-in-law could be discriminated against other first layer components of the family, so far as the definition of the ‘dependent’ was contained in Rule 2(c) of the Rajasthan Compassionate Appointment of Dependents of Deceased Government Servants Rules, 1996 (‘1996 Rules’). Thus, the Court opined that the term ‘dependent’ included ‘widowed daughter-in-law’ in the term ‘widowed daughter’ and set aside the impugned order dated 28-09-2022. The Court further directed the respondents to grant compassionate appointment to the appellant within a period of three months from date of receipt of a certified copy of the present judgment.

Background

In an instant case, a Class IV employee (‘appellant’s mother-in-law’) in the respondent-department and had two sons and the present appellant married the younger son. Later, on 17-11-2006, the eldest son expired, and soon after, the appellant’s husband also expired on 26-08-2007. Thereafter, the dependence of the whole family fell upon the appellant’s mother-in-law, but she also expired on 07-02-2013.

The appellant submitted an application along with all the necessary documents and affidavits before the respondents seeking compassionate appointment in place of her mother-in-law, who expired while in service, and the appellant being the direct dependent invoked the provisions of the 1996 Rules. However, the respondent, vide its letter dated 20-03-2013, informed the appellant that she, being the daughter-in-law of the deceased government servant was not entitled to get an appointment under the provisions of 1996 Rules, and informed the appellant about the deficiencies in her application on 10-07-2013.

The appellant made the necessary rectification in pursuance of the letter dated 10-07-2013, and again submitted the claim for the decision to be taken by the respondents. The respondent again wrote a letter dated 12-03-2014, mentioning therein that the appellant was not covered under Rule 2(c) of 1996 Rules as the appellant was a daughter-in-law and not the son or the other dependent entitled as per the statute to seek compassionate appointment. The appellant also submitted a representation regarding compassionate appointment to the State Government as well as the then Chief Minister of the Rajasthan.

Thus, the appellant filed the writ petition, which was dismissed vide order dated 28-09-2022, passed by the Single Judge of the present Court. Thereafter, the appellant filed the present special appeal.

Analysis, Law, and Decision

The Court opined that the term ‘dependent’ in Rule 2(c) of 1996 Rules, upon purposive interpretation include widowed daughter-in-law. The Court opined that the jurisprudence laid down in Pinki v. State of Rajasthan, 2011 SCC OnLine Raj 1621, for purposive interpretation had gone at great length to assess the impact of the legislative intention behind the laws, and once the dependents were defined in a particular law and it included widowed daughter, then it also included widowed daughter-in-law, which also formed a part of the same family. The Court opined that purposive interpretation had to be strengthened for providing immediate relief to the family, of whom, the sole bread earner had passed away, and thus, there could be no reason why such interpretation could not be drawn, or such conclusion could not be arrived at.

The Court opined that for a modern legislature framing laws to govern the society, which was fast moving, it must be aware of an inclusive meaning that a particular concept might attract, and match with the progressive changes brought in social, economic and other facets of human life. Further, the Courts also resort to the task of purposive interpretation, to advance the purpose of the welfare promulgation and to provide impetus to the purpose of such enactment.

The Court opined in the society, a daughter-in-law, might be a widow, was always treated as an integral member of the family and possessed all honour and responsibilities of the household. In multi ethical society of India, daughter-in-law was supposed to take care of her in-laws’ family, even after death of her husband. Thus, the Court opined it failed to understand as to how the widowed daughter-in-law could be discriminated or distinguished against other first layer components of the family, so far as the definition of the ‘dependent’ as contained in Rule 2(c) of the 1996 Rules was concerned. The Court opined that the term ‘dependent’ includes ‘widowed daughter-in-law’ in the term ‘widowed daughter’ and emphasised the need for the State to provide solace to the survivors of the family under bereavement, whose plight was writ large, by giving appointment to the widowed daughter-in-law.

Thus, the Court followed State of Rajasthan v. Sushila Devi, 2023 SCC OnLine Raj 2098 and quashed and set aside the impugned order dated 28-09-2022. The Court further directed the respondents to grant compassionate appointment to the appellant within a period of three months from date of receipt of a certified copy of the present judgment and all the benefits of such compassionate appointment to the appellant should operate prospectively.

[X v. State of Rajasthan, 2024 SCC OnLine Raj 336, decided on 02-01-2024]

*Judgment authored by- Dr. Justice Pushpendra Singh Bhati


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Appellant: Ramdev Potalia, Advocate;

For the Respondents: Pankaj Sharma, AAG with Rishi Soni and Deepak Chandak, Advocates.

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