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Last week, the Supreme Court of India addressed how appointments made out of pure humanitarian concern are an exception to the normal rule of appointments in the public sector.
The aim of a compassionate appointment, according to a bench of Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari, is to help the family get through a loss arising, such as the loss of the only breadwinner.
"Thus, as per the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions, compassionate appointment is an exception to the general rule of appointment in the public services and is in favour of the dependents of a deceased dying in harness and leaving his family in penury and without any means of livelihood, and in such cases, out of pure humanitarian consideration taking into consideration the fact that unless some source of livelihood is provided, the family would not be able to make both ends meet, a provision is made in the rules to provide gainful employment to one of the dependants of the deceased who may be eligible for such employment. 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 such family a post much less a post held by the deceased."
The Bench was contemplating a civil appeal that contested two directions from the Kerala High Court requesting the appellant corporation to take the respondent's request for a compassionate appointment when it made these significant observations.
The respondent submitted an application for a position with Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. on the basis of a compassionate appointment 14 years after the death of the respondent's father. Her application was turned down because the deceased employee's list of dependents did not include her name.
The respondent petitioned the High Court, which requested that the appellant take her application into consideration. The appellants petitioned the High Court's Division Bench, which dismissed the appeal. The appellants eventually moved Top Court as a result of this.
The attorney representing the appellants, Siddharth Jha, contended that the High Court shouldn't have considered the respondent's motion for a compassionate appointment. Reconsidering the respondent's case for an appointment on compassionate grounds today, 24 years later, would go against the intent and goal of such an appointment, which is to address the challenges brought on by the untimely death of the family's lone provider.
Senior Attorney Sanjay Parikh argued on behalf of the respondent that the respondent was a minor in 1995 when the deceased employee passed away. Additionally, the respondent's daughter submitted an application for an appointment on compassionate grounds after reaching the age of majority. The respondent was called for the interview in 2018, but the appointment was turned down on the grounds that the respondent's name was omitted from the list of dependents, which was later discovered to be untrue. It was contended that the respondent cannot be denied the appointment on compassionate grounds due to the delay.
The Top Court emphasized that the compassionate basis is a concession and not a right after citing several decisions, notably N.C. Santhosh v. the State of Karnataka.
The respondent is not eligible for the appointment on compassionate grounds due to the death of her father, who passed away in 1995, the Court claims.
"After a period of 24 years from the death of the deceased employee, the respondent shall not be entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground. If such an appointment is made now and/or after a period of 14/24 years, the same shall be against the object and purpose for which the appointment on compassionate ground is provided."
On these grounds, the Bench set aside the orders passed by the Single Judge as well as the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court.