Appointments in government offices on compassionate grounds cannot be claimed as a right and they are permissible only in genuine cases as per rules,else it would violate the Constitution,the Supreme Court has ruled.
“Appointment on compassionate grounds cannot be claimed as a matter of right. As a rule,public service appointments should be made strictly on the basis of open invitation of applications and merit.
“The appointment on compassionate ground is not another source of recruitment but merely an exception to the aforesaid requirement taking into consideration the fact of the death of the employee while in service leaving his family without any means of livelihood,” the apex court said.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra gave the ruling while upholding the Union government’s appeal against an Allahabad High Court order to appoint one Shashank Goswami on compassionate grounds.
The apex court said it is a settled legal proposition that the claim for appointment on compassionate ground is based on the premises that the applicant was dependent on the deceased employee.
“Strictly,such a claim cannot be upheld on the touchstone of Article 14 or 16 of the Constitution of India.
“However,such claim is considered as reasonable and permissible on the basis of sudden crisis occurring in the family of such employee who has served the State and dies while in service.
“In such cases the object is to enable the family to get over sudden financial crisis and not to confer a status on the family,” said Justice Chauhan writing the judgement for the bench.
Article 14 guarantees equality before law,while 16 refers to the equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
The case involved one Anand Kishore Gautam,who died in harness March 19,2001,while working as senior accountant in the office of the Accountant General,Allahabad. He left behind two sons aged about 20 and 19 years and a daughter,aged about 17 years besides his wife Rashmi Gautam.
One of his sons Shashank applied for a job on compassionate grounds,but his plea was rejected as he did not fulfil the requirements of the rules framed by the government.
The rules among other things stipulated that to get the job on compassionate ground,the total income of the family from all sources including terminal benefits after death,excluding GPF should not exceed Rs 3 lakh.
In the case,the total income of the family stood at Rs 4.40 lakh,besides an additional family pension of Rs 3,100 per month,received by deceased’s widow Rashmi Gautam for a period of 7 years and another Rs 1,860 per month as admissible relief on pension.
Upholding the government’s contention,the apex court said “appointments on compassionate ground have to be made in accordance with the rules,regulations or administrative instructions taking into consideration the financial condition of the family of the deceased.
“In view of the fact that,in the instant case the terminal benefits have been received by the family exceeding Rs 3 lakhs,respondent Shashank is not eligible to be considered for the Group ‘C’ post,” the court said.