The State of Maharashtra and Anr. Versus Ms. Madhuri Maruti Vidhate

The State of Maharashtra and Anr. Versus Ms. Madhuri Maruti Vidhate 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6938 OF 2022
The State of Maharashtra and Anr. …Appellant(s)
Versus
Ms. Madhuri Maruti Vidhate …Respondent(s)
(Since after marriage
Smt. Madhuri Santosh Koli)
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order dated 07.01.2019 passed by the High Court of Judicature at
Bombay in Writ Petition No. 11614 of 2018 by which the High Court has
dismissed the said writ petition and has confirmed the order passed by
the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the
“Tribunal) directing to appoint the respondent on compassionate ground,
the State of Maharashtra through the Principal Secretary, Water
Resources Department has preferred the present appeal.
2. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as under:-
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2.1 That the father of the respondent was in the clerical cadre serving
with the appellants. He died in harness. After his death, his wife, i.e.,
mother of the respondent was appointed on compassionate ground.
However, she died while in service. That thereafter the elder sister of
the respondent namely Mrs. Sangita M. Thonge made application for
seeking appointment on compassionate ground. The said application
was rejected vide communication dated 18.08.2011 on the ground that
she cannot be given the appointment on compassionate ground as she
is a married daughter.
2.2 That thereafter the State Government issued a Government
Circular dated 26.02.2013, according to which the employment was to
be provided to one of the legal heirs and representatives of the
deceased government servant on compassionate grounds.
2.3 That thereafter the respondent, a married daughter of the
deceased employee – Late Smt. Lata Maruti Vidhate applied for
appointment on compassionate ground vide representation dated
12.03.2013. At this stage, it is required to be noted that respondent is
the second married daughter and the application made by her elder
married sister was already rejected earlier in the year 2011. The
application of the respondent for appointment on compassionate ground
came to be rejected vide order dated 23.04.2013.
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2.4 The respondent filed O.A. No. 860 of 2015 before the Tribunal
approximately after a period of two years from the rejection of her
application for appointment on compassionate ground. The Tribunal
vide its judgment and order dated 24.03.2017 allowed the said O.A. and
directed to consider the respondent’s case for appointment on
compassionate ground. The order passed by the Tribunal has been
confirmed by the High Court by the impugned judgment and order, which
is the subject matter of present appeal before this Court.
3. Having heard the learned counsel for the respective parties, the
question which is posed for the consideration of this Court is:
Whether in the facts and circumstances of the case
narrated hereinabove, the respondent shall be entitled to
the appointment on compassionate ground?
4. The undisputed facts are that on the death of the deceased
employee – father of the respondent, who died in harness, the mother of
the respondent was given appointment on compassionate ground. The
mother of the respondent died on 28.03.2006. That thereafter the elder
married sister of the respondent made an application for appointment on
compassionate ground, which came to be rejected in the year 2011 on
the ground that being a married daughter, she cannot be said to be
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dependent on her deceased mother and therefore, she is not entitled to
the appointment on compassionate ground. That after a period of seven
years from the date of death of her mother, again, the respondent being
the younger married daughter made an application for appointment on
compassionate ground in the year 2013. In light of the aforesaid facts,
the question posed is required to be considered.
5. While considering the issue involved in the present appeal, the law
laid down by this Court on compassionate ground on the death of the
deceased employee are required to be referred to and considered. In the
recent decision, this Court in the case of Director of Treasuries in
Karnataka and Anr. Vs. V. Somyashree, 2021 SCC Online SC 704,
had occasion to consider the principle governing the grant of
appointment on compassionate ground. After referring to the decision of
this Court in N.C. Santhosh Vs. State of Karnataka, (2020) 7 SCC 617,
this Court has summarised the principle governing the grant of
appointment on compassionate ground as under:-
(i) that the compassionate appointment is an
exception to the general rule;
(ii) that no aspirant has a right to
compassionate appointment;
(iii) the appointment to any public post in the service of
the State has to be made on the basis of
the principle in accordance with Articles 14 and 16 of
the Constitution of India;
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(iv) appointment on compassionate ground can be
made only on fulfilling the norms laid down by the
State’s policy and/or satisfaction of the eligibility
criteria as per the policy;
(v) the norms prevailing on the date of the
consideration of the application should be the basis
for consideration of claim for compassionate
appointment.
6. As per the law laid down by this Court in catena of decisions on
the appointment on compassionate ground, for all the government
vacancies equal opportunity should be provided to all aspirants as
mandated under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. However,
appointment on compassionate ground offered to a dependent of a
deceased employee is an exception to the said norms. The
compassionate ground is a concession and not a right.
6.1 In the case of State of Himachal Pradesh and Anr. Vs. Shashi
Kumar reported in (2019) 3 SCC 653, this Court had an occasion to
consider the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate
ground and considered the decision of this Court in the case of Govind
Prakash Verma Vs. LIC, reported in (2005) 10 SCC 289, in paras 21
and 26, it is observed and held as under:-
“21. The decision in Govind Prakash Verma [Govind
Prakash Verma v. LIC, (2005) 10 SCC 289, has been
considered subsequently in several decisions. But, before
we advert to those decisions, it is necessary to note that
the nature of compassionate appointment had been
considered by this Court in Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State
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of Haryana [Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana,
(1994) 4 SCC 138]. The principles which have been laid
down in Umesh Kumar Nagpal [Umesh Kumar
Nagpal v. State of Haryana, (1994) 4 SCC 138] have been
subsequently followed in a consistent line of precedents in
this Court. These principles are encapsulated in the
following extract: (Umesh Kumar Nagpal case [Umesh
Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana, (1994) 4 SCC 138],
SCC pp. 139-40, para 2)
“2. … As a rule, appointments in the
public services should be made strictly on the
basis of open invitation of applications and
merit. No other mode of appointment nor any
other consideration is permissible. Neither the
Governments nor the public authorities are at
liberty to follow any other procedure or relax
the qualifications laid down by the rules for the
post. However, to this general rule which is to
be followed strictly in every case, there are
some exceptions carved out in the interests of
justice and to meet certain contingencies. One
such exception is in favour of the dependants
of an employee dying in harness and leaving
his family in penury and without any means of
livelihood. 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 a member of such family a
post much less a post for post held by the
deceased. What is further, mere death of an
employee in harness does not entitle his
family to such source of livelihood. The
Government or the public authority concerned
has to examine the financial condition of the
family of the deceased, and it is only if it is
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satisfied, that but for the provision of
employment, the family will not be able to
meet the crisis that a job is to be offered to the
eligible member of the family. The posts in
Classes III and IV are the lowest posts in nonmanual and manual categories and hence
they alone can be offered on compassionate
grounds, the object being to relieve the family,
of the financial destitution and to help it get
over the emergency. The provision of
employment in such lowest posts by making
an exception to the rule is justifiable and valid
since it is not discriminatory. The favourable
treatment given to such dependant of the
deceased employee in such posts has a
rational nexus with the object sought to be
achieved viz. relief against destitution. No
other posts are expected or required to be
given by the public authorities for the purpose.
It must be remembered in this connection that
as against the destitute family of the deceased
there are millions of other families which are
equally, if not more destitute. The exception to
the rule made in favour of the family of the
deceased employee is in consideration of the
services rendered by him and the legitimate
expectations, and the change in the status
and affairs, of the family engendered by the
erstwhile employment which are suddenly
upturned.”
26. The judgment of a Bench of two Judges in Mumtaz Yunus
Mulani v. State of Maharashtra [(2008) 11 SCC 384] has
adopted the principle that appointment on compassionate
grounds is not a source of recruitment, but a means to enable
the family of the deceased to get over a sudden financial
crisis. The financial position of the family would need to be
evaluated on the basis of the provisions contained in the
scheme. The decision in Govind Prakash Verma [Govind
Prakash Verma v. LIC, (2005) 10 SCC 289 : 2005 SCC (L&S)
590] has been duly considered, but the Court observed that it
did not appear that the earlier binding precedents of this Court
have been taken note of in that case.”
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7. 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.
7.1 Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions
to the facts of the case on hand, to appoint the respondent now on
compassionate ground shall be contrary to the object and purpose of
appointment on compassionate ground. The respondent cannot be said
to be dependent on the deceased employee, i.e., her mother. Even
otherwise, she shall not be entitled to appointment on compassionate
ground after a number of years from the death of the deceased
employee.
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8. Under the circumstances and in the facts and circumstances of the
case narrated hereinabove, the Tribunal as well as the High Court have
committed serious error in directing the appellants to appoint the
respondent on compassionate ground. The judgment and order passed
by the Tribunal confirmed by the High Court directing the appellants to
consider the case of the respondent for appointment on compassionate
ground after a number of years is unsustainable.
9. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the order
passed by the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal in O.A. No. 860 of
2015 and the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court
dismissing the writ petition and confirming the order passed by the
Tribunal are hereby quashed and set aside.
Present appeal is accordingly allowed. No costs.
………………………………….J.
 [M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; ………………………………….J.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2022. [KRISHNA MURARI]
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