The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna has held that an application made for compassionate appointment must be considered and decided at the earliest point of time, but not beyond the period of 6 months from the date of submission of such completed applications.

The Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction in the way applications for appointment on compassionate grounds were not attended on time and kept pending for years. To that end, the SC held that "If the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds as envisaged under the relevant policies or the rules have to be achieved then it is just and necessary that such applications are considered well in time and not in a tardy way."

In this case, the father of the appellant who was working as an Assistant Sub-Inspector in the Excise Department passed away on 02.01.2010 while in service. Immediately in July 2010, the appellant made an application for his appointment as a Junior Clerk on the compassionate grounds under the Orissa Civil Service (Rehabilitation Assistance) Rules, 1990. The mother of the appellant in this case was unable to take a government job due to her medical condition hence the appellant applied for the job however the application of the applicant was kept pending consideration initially for a period of five years. The same was attended to after a period of five years by the Additional Secretary.

Subsequently, the financial condition of the family of the deceased government servant as well as the medical condition of the appellant's mother was perused. It was found that the family income of the appellant from all sources does not exceed ceiling of Rs.72,000/- per annum and Medical Board found the mother of the appellant unfit for the government job.

Despite that the appellant fulfilled all the eligibility criteria and/or conditions for appointment on compassionate grounds, he was not appointed as a Junior Clerk as per 1990 Rules. However, in the meantime, 1990 Rules came to be replaced and the Odisha Civil Services (Rehabilitation Assistance) Rules, 2020 came into force. Under the 2020 Rules, one family member of the deceased government servant would be appointed on compassionate grounds to 'Group D' base level post. The case of the appellant was directed to be considered under the amened 2020 rules, consequently, the appellant aggrieved preferred the writ petition before the High Court.

The High Court dismissed the said writ petition by observing that the claim should be considered as per the amended Rules that were prevalent at the time of consideration of the application and not the Rules that were prevalent on the death of the government servant.

Feeling aggrieved by the High Court's order dismissing the writ petition, the petitioner filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court held that "it can be seen that there was no fault and/or delay and/or negligence on the part of the appellant at all. He was fulfilling all the conditions for appointment on compassionate grounds under the 1990 Rules. For no reason, his application was kept pending and/or no order was passed on one ground or the other."

The Court observed delay on the part of the department/authorities and to that end held that "the appellant has been deprived of seeking compassionate appointment, which he was otherwise entitled to under the 1990 Rules."

The Court held that the appellant should not be denied appointment under 1990 rules and accordingly quashed and set aside the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court and allowed the appeal.

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