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Compassionate appointment is not a matter of right: Chhattisgarh High Court

When the earning member of the family dies, the compassionate appointment is not a matter of right but is up to the discretion of the establishment and must be strictly in accordance with the policy for compassionate appointment applicable in the establishment. This was decreed by the Hon’ble Justice Shri Justice P. Sam Koshy in the case of Santosh Kumar Rajwade Vs. Chairman, Chhattisgarh State Power Companies and Ors. [WPS No. 3054 of 2021] on the 19th of July before the Hon’ble High court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur.

The brief facts of the case are, the father of the petitioner was working under the respondents as a Lineman who died in harness way-back on 28.02.2004. At the time of death of the deceased, the petitioner was a minor aged around Six years. He attained the age of majority in the year 2016. Thereafter, the petitioner had moved an application for compassionate appointment which now vide the impugned order has been rejected. he policy of compassionate appointment governing the field, it has been specifically prescribed that the period for applying for compassionate appointment is one year. In the instant case, the petitioner admittedly moved an application much beyond a period of one year. The petitioner is aggrieved by the impugned order and the present petition has been filed.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the compassionate appointment is a matter of right and the establishment was infringing the rights. He also submitted that, the time limitation does not apply to the present case since the petitioner was a minor and has recently attained majority. The counsel for the respondents submits that, merely because a death of an employee has occurred by itself would not again give rise to a right for appointment but would only have a right for being considered for employment, subject to the claimants fulfilling other requisite eligibility criteria under the policy for Compassionate Appointment. In case if the other family members are having strong financial background, the claim for compassionate appointment can be considered in favour of somebody more needy. It was also submitted that, Perusal of the proceedings would clearly reveal that under the policy of compassionate appointment governing the field, it has been specifically prescribed that the period for applying for compassionate appointment is one year. In the instant case, the petitioner admittedly moved an application much beyond a period of one year.

The learned judge heard the submissions of both the parties and observed that, From the afore given factual matrix itself and what is evidently cleared is that from the time of the death of the deceased employee i.e., in the year 2004, now the petitioner moved an application for compassionate appointment, they could sustain themselves which by itself shows that the petitioner had sufficient source of income. Moreover, no specific reason has been assigned as to why either the widow of the deceased or any other legal heirs of the deceased had not sought for compassionate appointment at that point of time. In Sanjay Kumar v. The State of Bihar and Anr. {2000 7 SSC 192}, the court held that, “unless these provisions specify for the same, a claim for compassionate appointment cannot be reserved until a minor attains the age of majority.” The court also referred to the judgement Steel Authority Of India Ltd vs Madhusudan Das & Ors {2008 15 SSC 560}wherein again Hon’ble Supreme Court has emphasized “the fact that compassionate appointment cannot be claimed as a matter of right, the same can be provided only in accordance with the rules/policy governing the field.”

Applying the above-mentioned rationale, the court ruled that, “mode of recruitment by way of compassionate appointment is not to be treated as another source of appointment/recruitment. The policy for compassionate appointment is part of a welfare policy granting social protection to the employees and their family members. The purpose of compassionate appointment is to mitigate immediate hardship and distress a family faces on the death of the bread earner. The same has been framed as a welfare scheme on behalf of the welfare State to ensure that family members of the deceased employee may avail the said facility by seeking employment in the event, they face any financial crises in accordance with the policy governing the field. In the instant case there is also a policy for compassionate appointment governing the field. The policy for compassionate appointment prescribes a period of limitation within which an application has to be made. The policy does not provide for a clause whereby in the event one of the legal heirs being minor, his/her claim can be kept live till he/she attains the age of majority.” The petition was dismissed stating the same as above.  

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