Travancore Ltd. & Ors. Versus Anusree K.B.

Travancore Ltd. & Ors. Versus Anusree K.B. 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6958 OF 2022
Fertilizers and Chemicals
Travancore Ltd. & Ors. …Appellant(s)
Versus
Anusree K.B. …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order dated 31.03.2022 passed by the High Court of Kerala at
Ernakulam in Writ Appeal No. 543 of 2021 by which the Division Bench
of the High Court has dismissed the said writ appeal preferred by the
appellants and has confirmed the judgment and order passed by the
learned Single Judge directing the appellants to consider the case of the
respondent herein for appointment on compassionate ground, the
original appellants – Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. and Ors.
have preferred the present appeal.
2. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as under:-
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2.1 That father of the respondent was employed as a loading helper
with the appellant No. 1 and expired while on duty on 19.04.1995. At the
time of death of the employee, the wife of the deceased employee was
serving and therefore, was not eligible for appointment on
compassionate ground considering the scheme for employment of
dependents of the employees dying in harness. After a period of 14
years, after the death of the deceased employee, the respondent
daughter of the deceased employee made a representation seeking
appointment on compassionate basis. That her application for
compassionate appointment was rejected on 12.02.2018 on the grounds
that her name was not in the list of dependents submitted by the
deceased employee and that the policy was to give employment to
widow or son or unmarried daughter of the deceased employee.
2.2 The rejection of the application for compassionate appointment
was the subject matter of writ petition before the learned Single Judge.
Vide order dated 13.11.2019, the learned Single Judge disposed of the
writ petition with the directions to the appellants to reconsider the
application of the respondent in accordance with Clause 1 of the
Scheme.
2.3 That on 12.12.2019, after reconsideration, the appellants again
rejected the application of the respondent for appointment on
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compassionate ground on the grounds that it did not meet the primary
test of scheme that the deceased employee should be the “sole bread
winner of his family”, since his wife was gainfully employed with the
Kerala State Health Services Department at the time of his death and
also on the ground that 24 years have lapsed since the date of death of
the deceased employee.
2.4 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order dated
13.11.2019, rejecting the application of the respondent for appointment
on compassionate ground, the respondent filed a writ petition before the
High Court.
2.5 By the judgment and order dated 22.01.2021, the learned Single
Judge allowed the said writ petition and directed the appellants to
reconsider the respondent’s claim strictly in terms of the observations
and directions passed in the order of the learned Single Judge dated
13.11.2019 passed in Writ Petition No. 11234 of 2018 (earlier round of
litigation).
2.6 The judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge was
the subject matter of appeal before the Division Bench of the High Court
by way of present writ appeal. By the impugned judgment and order, the
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Division Bench of the High Court has dismissed the said writ appeal,
which has given rise to the present appeal before this Court.
3. Shri Siddharth Jha, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellants has vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances
of the case and, more particularly, when the application for appointment
on compassionate ground was made by the respondent – daughter of
the deceased employee after a period of 14 years from the death of the
deceased employee, the Hon’ble High Court ought not to have directed
the appellants to reconsider the case of the respondent for appointment
on compassionate ground. It is submitted that to reconsider the case of
the respondent now for appointment on compassionate ground after a
period of 24 years would be against the object and purpose of
appointment on compassionate ground namely to meet out the
difficulties created on account of sudden death of the sole bread earner.
Reliance is placed on the decision of this Court in the case of Director
of Treasuries in Karnataka and Anr. Vs. V. Somyashree, 2021 SCC
Online SC 704 and another decision of this Court in the case of N.C.
Santhosh Vs. State of Karnataka, (2020) 7 SCC 617.
3.1 Making above submissions and relying upon the above decisions,
it is prayed to allow the present appeal.
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4. Present appeal is vehemently opposed by Shri Sanjay Parikh,
learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the respondent.
4.1 It is submitted that at the relevant time when the deceased
employee died in the year 1995, the respondent was minor. It is
submitted that on attaining the age of majority, the respondent daughter
made an application for appointment on compassionate ground. It is
submitted that initially when the application of the respondent for
appointment on compassionate ground was rejected, the same was not
on the ground subsequently mentioned while passing the order dated
13.11.2019 namely delay. It is submitted that in the year 2018, even the
respondent was called for the interview, however, at that time, the
appointment was denied on the ground that in the dependent’s list, the
name of the respondent is not mentioned, which was found to be
factually incorrect. It is submitted that therefore, the respondent cannot
be denied the appointment on compassionate ground on the ground of
delay. Therefore, it is prayed not to interfere with the impugned
judgment and order passed by the High Court.
5. Heard the learned counsel for the respective parties at length.
6. The respondent’s father was serving as a loading helper. He died
in the year 1995. At the relevant time, the widow of the deceased
employee – mother of the respondent was serving in the Kerala State
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Health Services Department and, therefore, as such was not eligible
and/or entitled for appointment on compassionate ground. After a period
of approximately 14 years, the respondent being a daughter of the
deceased employee submitted an application for appointment on
compassionate ground, which has been rejected by the appellants. At
this stage, it is required to be noted that in the meantime, the respondent
got married in the year 2013. It is also required to be noted that by the
time, the learned Single Judge passed the order, which has been
confirmed by the Division Bench, more than 24 years have passed after
the death of the deceased employee. In light of the aforesaid facts and
circumstances, it is required to be considered whether still the
respondent shall be entitled to appointment on compassionate ground
on the death of her father, who died in the year 1995?
7. 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,
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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;
(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.
8. 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.
8.1 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
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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
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
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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
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
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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.”
9. 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.
9.1 Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions
to the facts of the case on hand and considering the observations made
hereinabove and the object and purpose for which the appointment on
compassionate ground is provided, the respondent shall not be entitled
to the appointment on compassionate ground on the death of her father,
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who died in the year 1995. 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.
9.2 Under the circumstances, both, the learned Single Judge as well
as the Division Bench of the High Court have committed a serious error
in directing the appellants to reconsider the case of the respondent for
appointment on compassionate ground. The impugned judgment and
order passed by the High Court is unsustainable.
10. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present
appeal succeeds. The judgment and order passed by the learned Single
Judge as well as the Division Bench of the High Court 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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