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Supreme Court applies Compassionate Grant policy retrospectively

In the case of State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors. Vs Amit Shrivas [Civil Appeal No. 8564 Of 2015], the Supreme Court held that Tribal Welfare Department was entitled to the compassionate appointment as per the existing policy on the date of his demise, unless subsequent policy is made applicable retrospectively.

Supreme Court had allowed an appeal filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh against the direction of the High Court which had directed the Appellants to give compassionate appointment to the son of the deceased who is the Respondent in the present matter.

The deceased was employed as a driver with regular pay associated with the Tribal Welfare Department of the appellant. On the demise of the deceased who was the sole bread winner of the family consisting of a son and three sisters, the son had filed an application seeking the benefit of compassionate appointment under the Madhya Pradesh Civil Pension Rules, 1976. The application was rejected on placing reliance on the policy issued by the General Administration Department Ministry, Madhya Pradesh Government. This policy pertains to when a Government servant dies while in service, and if such an employee is earning a salary from the work-charge/contingency fund at the time of his/her demise, then there was no provision for the grant of such appointment. The policy provided for the grant of Rs 1 Lakh to the nominee of the employee. The amount was dispersed from the Appellant to the wife of the deceased. Aggrieved by this decision the son had filed an appeal in the High Court which further upheld the decision of the Appellant department. Further an appeal was filed in the division bench of the High Court which ordered the Appellant to grant a job having similar description of the deceased. Aggrieved by this decision the State sought an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Appellant opposed the decision of the High Court on the basis that the father of the respondent had been appointed on contingency basis as per requirement of work as a driver. Such appointment was with the condition that his service may be terminated with one month’s notice and that his salary would be released from the contingency fund. The Appellant heavily relied that, ‘compassionate appointment is not an inherent right but a prerogative of the State, which can only be granted as per the concerned policy formulated and enforced at the relevant time.’

The Supreme Court observed that there is no dispute in regard that the deceased had been in service for 23 years. The main conflict concerned that whether the late father of the respondent who admittedly was employed as a work-charged/contingency employee in the Tribal Welfare Department was entitled to the compassionate appointment as per the existing policy on the date of his demise.

The Court observed from the judgement of Ram Naresh Rawat v. Ashwini Ray & Ors, (2017) 3 SCC 436 that “if some persons are given the benefit wrongly, that cannot form the basis of claiming the same relief. It is trite that right to equality under Article 14 is not in the negative terms.” The court noted that no relief regarding the employment can be given to the Respondent however keeping in view the updated policy, the compassionate grant has been increased from Rs 1 Lakh to 2 Lakh for the pending cases.

The Court held that the appeal is allowed and with the power vested under Article 142 of the Constitution, the court can increase the amount of grant to Rs 2 Lakh. The Appellants are directed to pay the remaining grant amount within two months.

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