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Job under compassionate quota meant for immediate succour: Supreme Court

J. Venkatesan

Upholds appeal against High Court order directing grant of employment to respondent from Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that a beneficiary seeking appointment on a compassionate basis should make the application without any loss of time after the death of the bread winner in the family and not after a long lapse of time.

Giving this ruling, a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha said that under the scheme of compassionate appointment, in case of an employee dying in harness one of his eligible dependents is given a job with the sole objective of providing immediate succour to the family which may suddenly find itself in dire straits as a result of the death of the breadwinner.

Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “An appointment made many years after the death of the employee or without due consideration of the financial resources available to his/her dependents and the financial deprivation caused to the dependents as a result of his death, simply because the claimant happened to be one of the dependents of the deceased employee would be directly in conflict with Articles 14 [equality before law] and 16 [equality of opportunity] of the Constitution and hence quite bad and illegal.”

The Bench said: “In dealing with cases of compassionate appointment, it is imperative to keep this vital aspect in mind. Ideally, the appointment on compassionate basis should be made without any loss of time but having regard to the delays in the administrative process and several other relevant factors such as the number of pending claims under the scheme and availability of vacancies etc, normally the appointment may come after several months or even after two to three years.

“It is not our intent, nor is it possible to lay down a rigid time limit within which appointment on compassionate grounds must be made. But what needs to be emphasised is that such an appointment must have some bearing on the object of the scheme.”

In the instant case, respondent M. Selvanayagam claimed a job on compassionate grounds after the death of his father, Meenakshisundaram, while he was in service in the Local Administration Department, Tamil Nadu. Since he was only 11 years when his father died, the application for appointment was made by his mother seven years later, after he attained the age of 18. The Madras High Court directed the department to grant him a job on compassionate grounds and the present appeal by the department is directed against this judgment.

Allowing the appeal, the Bench agreed with the appellant's contention that whatever difficulty, the family of Meenakshisundaram had been able to tide over the immediate impact of his death. That being the position, the case of the respondent did not come under the scheme of compassionate appointments as the objective was to provide immediate succour to the family, it held.

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