This Appeal stands disposed of by HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH AT INDORE in the case of STATE BANK OF INDIA V. SMT. MEENA DHAIGUDE through HON’BLE JUSTICE SUBODH ABHYANKAR
FACTS OF THE CASE
The facts of the case are that the petitioner’s husband Ashok Dhaigude, who was an employee of the erstwhile State Bank of Indore went missing on 20.10.1998, and as his absence was for more than 90 days, in terms of para 17(a) of Bipartite Settlement dated 10.04.1989 read with para 522(3) of Sastry Award, he was served with 30 days notice on 21.01.1999, calling upon him to resume duties within 30 days from the date of notice, failing which he would be treated to have voluntarily retired. The aforesaid notice was replied to by the wife of Ashok Dhaigude, vide her letter dated 08.02.1999, informing the bank that her husband has been missing since 20.10.1998 and she has also lodged a police report in this regard. As it turned out, Ashok Dhaigude did not report on duty till 10.06.1999 i.e., much after the expiry of the said notice dated 21.01.1999, the Controller of the Branch treated him as voluntarily retired with effect from 20.10.1998 i.e., the date on which he went missing. The case of the petitioner is that in the meantime, on 17.05.1999, she also applied for employment in the bank in place of her husband. Subsequently, as per the letter dated 11.11.2005, the Superintendent of Police, after thoroughly searching for the petitioner’s husband also informed the petitioner that police have already tried its level best to locate her husband even by telecasting the information through Doordarshan and through Gazette notification, but his whereabouts are still unknown. On 03.09.2007, a legal notice was also sent by the petitioner to the respondent Bank that as it has already been more than 7 years since the husband of the petitioner got missing, and earlier when the petitioner approached the Bank with a request of her compassionate appointment, she was informed by the Bank that her request can only be considered after lapse of 7 years, thus it was demanded that the petitioner be given employment in the bank in place of her husband. According to the petitioner, her husband shall be presumed dead with effect from 20.10.2005 under Section 108 of the Evidence Act, 1872 as he went missing on 20.10.1998.
In this case, the considered opinion of this court, the issue of applicability of the relevant policy for compassionate appointment is no more res intetra as has been laid down by the full bench of this court as well as the Supreme Court. This Court is also of the opinion that, if any dues of the respondent are still pending with the appellants/bank, the same shall be cleared by the bank within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order. As a parting note, while we express our deep anguish for dismissing the petitioner’s claim for compassionate appointment, we are also of the considered view that to some extent the employer Bank is also responsible for the plight of the petitioner who could not get compassionate appointment only either because she could not file her application for compassionate appointment when such policy was in force, or even if her such application was pending, it was not decided by the Bank while such policy of compassionate appointment was in force. It is to be noted that how devastating it must have been for the petitioner whose husband went missing on one fine day after he went to the Bank, and in such circumstances, to expect the petitioner that she should file an application for compassionate appointment soon after passing of the seven years of the incident is unimaginable, especially when she had already requested the Bank to give her some temporary employment soon after her husband went missing. If the appellant Bank claims itself to be a modal employer, it should not have treated the petitioner, who happens to be the wife of its missing employee, in such a cavalier manner.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SHREYA NIDHI