Megh HC | Will a minor at the time of death of a deceased employee be entitled to claim compassionate appointment upon attaining majority? HC answers

Meghalaya High Court: H. S. Thangkhiew J., dismissed the writ petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner herein is the eldest son of the deceased employee who expired when the petitioner was still a minor aged 11(eleven) years old. The petitioner on attaining majority applied for appointment on compassionate ground in the year 2009, and it was only in 2013 that the petitioner was informed vide letter dated 21.03.2013 by the respondent 2 that he was placed at Sl. No. 19 in the list for consideration for appointment on compassionate ground. It was further informed by letter dated 10.11.2014 that after review by the Compassionate Appointment Committee, the petitioner was placed at Sl. No. 37, and thereafter down the year so much so that the petitioner is now placed at 10.1 and it is the norm that a person whose indigent index is less than 10 (points) is no longer considered eligible for appointment. Hence the petitioner herein has preferred this application before this Court on the grievance that his application for appointment on compassionate ground has not been duly considered and that he has been deprived of the same due to the arbitrary acts of the respondents.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondents have acted arbitrarily and delayed his case which has resulted in his low indigent index ranking and the respondents have not complied with the prescribed Scheme contained in the Office Memorandum dated 09-10-1998 issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension (Department Personnel & Training), for consideration of appointment which has resulted in the deprivation of the petitioner of gainful employment.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the writ petition is hopelessly barred by delay and laches, inasmuch as, the deceased employee had expired in 2003, the application for compassionate appointment was only made in 2009, i.e. 6(six) years after the death of the employee, and that the petitioner has come to Court only on July, 2017. It was further submitted that this delay defeats the very purpose of compassionate appointment which had been formulated to provide immediate succor to the family of the bereaved to tide over the crisis caused due to the death of an employee.

The Court relied on judgment Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana, (1994) 4 SCC 138, wherein it was held:

“2…. The whole object of granting compassionate employment is thus to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis. The object is not to give a member of such family a post much less a post for post held by the deceased. What is further, mere death of an employee in harness does not entitle his family to such source of livelihood. The Government or the public authority concerned has to examine the financial condition of the family of the deceased, and it is only if it is satisfied, that but for the provision of employment, the family will not be able to meet the crisis that a job is to be offered to the eligible member of the family. The posts in Classes III and IV are the lowest posts in non-manual and manual categories and hence they alone can be offered on compassionate grounds, the object being to relieve the family, of the financial destitution and to help it get over the emergency”

 “6.For these very reasons, the compassionate employment cannot be granted after a lapse of a reasonable period which must be specified in the rules. The consideration for such employment is not a vested right which can be exercised at any time in future. The object being to enable the family to get over the financial crisis which it faces at the time of the death of the sole breadwinner, the compassionate employment cannot be claimed and offered whatever the lapse of time and after the crisis is over.”

The Court thus observed that the object of compassionate appointment which is an exception to Article 16 (1) of Constitution of India and as has been reiterated by a catena of judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, is to address the immediacy of the need and it is not meant to entertain stale claims. A scheme for the grant of compassionate appointment does not constitute a reservation of a post in favour of a member of the family of the deceased employee, and there is no general right which can accrue to the effect that a member of the family who was a minor at the time of death would be entitled to claim compassionate appointment upon attaining majority.

The Court thus held “no case has been made out by the petitioner for issuance of any direction or for any interference by this Court. Further, no discernable grounds have been made out to show that there was any failure on the part of the respondent No. 1 & 2 in complying with the Scheme for compassionate appointment, nor any materials placed on record to substantiate the allegations that there was any illegality or arbitrariness on the part of the respondents.”

In view of the above, writ petition was dismissed.[Dhaneswar Medhi v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Megh 15, decided on 03-02-2021]


Arunima bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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