Read Judgment: State Of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. vs. Premlata

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, October 6, 2021: The Supreme Court has reiterated that the whole object of granting compassionate employment is to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis on the death of the bread earner and the object is not to give such family a post much less a post held by the deceased. 

A Division Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice A.S. Bopanna therefore observed that appointment on compassionate ground is provided out of pure humanitarian consideration taking into consideration the fact that some source of livelihood is provided and family would be able to make both ends meet. 

The observation came pursuant to an appeal filed by the State of U.P challenging the judgment whereby the Allahabad High Court had directed the appellants (original respondents) to consider the candidature of the respondent (original appellant – Premlata) for appointment on compassionate ground in Grade III service and same be accorded to her if she otherwise does not suffer any ineligibility. 

The background of the case was that the Division Bench of the High Court had observed that a bare perusal of Rule 5 of the Dying in Harness Rules,1974, makes it crystal clear that appointment under Rule 5 is required to be given on a “suitable post” and the term ‘suitable’ in Rule 5 pertains to suitability of the person who desires for appointment and it has nothing to do with the post held by the deceased government servant. 

The Division Bench also observed that the suitability of the aspirant is required to be assessed on the basis of the educational qualification and other eligibilities so possessed by such person, and since in the case in hand, respondent is having the qualification of Bachelors Degree in Arts as well as Bachelors Degree in Education, she will be qualified for appointment on a post in Grade III. 

Quoting the decision in the case of Director of Treasuries in Karnataka & Anr vs. V. Somashree, the Apex Court reiterated that on the appointment on compassionate ground for all the government vacancies, equal opportunity should be provided to all aspirants as mandated under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

The Apex Court however made it clear that appointment on compassionate ground offered to a dependent of a deceased employee is an exception to the said norms, therefore, compassionate ground is a concession and not a right. 

The interpretation by the Division Bench of the High Court is just opposite to the object and purpose of granting the appointment on compassionate ground. ‘Suitable post’ has to be considered, considering status/post held by the deceased employee and the educational qualification/eligibility criteria is required to be considered, considering the post held by the deceased employee and the suitability of the post is required to be considered vis a vis the post held by the deceased employee, otherwise there shall be no difference/distinction between the appointment on compassionate ground and the regular appointment”, observed the Top Court.  

The Top Court opined that in the present case, initially the respondent applied for appointment on compassionate ground on the post of Assistant Operator in Police Radio Department, which was not accepted by the Department and rightly not accepted on the ground that she was not fulfilling requisite eligibility criteria for the post of Assistant Operator. 

Thereafter the respondent again applied for appointment on the compassionate ground on the post of Workshop Hand and her case was considered, however, she failed in the physical test examination, which was required as per the relevant recruitment rules of 2005, added the Court. 

The Apex Court therefore found that the respondent widow was offered appointment on compassionate ground as Messenger which was equivalent to the post held by the deceased employee, and hence, appellants were justified in offering the appointment to the respondent on the post of Messenger, which post was refused by the respondent. 

Therefore, the Apex Court concluded that the Division Bench of the High Court had misinterpreted and misconstrued Rule 5 of the Rules 1974 by holding that the ‘suitable post’ under Rule 5 of the Dying In Harness Rules,1974, would mean any post suitable to the qualification of the candidate and the appointment on compassionate ground is to be offered considering the educational qualification of the dependent.

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