A two-judge bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice A.S. Bopanna has observed that a dependant cannot seek an appointment on compassionate ground on a post higher than what was held by the deceased employee.
In this case, The Respondent, i.e., the widow of the deceased, had applied to the post of Assistant Operator in the Police Radio Department on compassionate ground as her husband had served as a Messenger (Class IV) in Police Radio Department. The Respondent had applied twice for the post at the Police Radio Department but both her applications were rejected. However, she was offered a rank of Messenger in the Radio Department, which she declined.
Following the two rejections, the Respondent filed a writ petition in the High Court of Allahabad. However, this writ petition was dismissed and the Single Judge Bench of the High Court. Aggrieved, the Respondent appealed this decision before a Division Bench of the High Court, which allowed the appeal and set aside the order passed by the Single Judge and directed consideration of the candidature of the Respondent to a Grade III post. The Division Bench held that "suitable post" and the term 'suitable' in Rule 5 of the Dying-In-Harness Rules, 1974 pertains to suitability of the person who desires for appointment and it has nothing to do with the post held by the deceased.
The Appellants contended that the Division Bench had misinterpreted Rule 5. The Appellants further argued that the object and purpose of providing the appointment on compassionate ground is to meet out the difficulties created on account of the sudden death of the sole bread earner and cannot be equated with the regular recruitment/appointment.
The Respondent however submitted that Rule 5 had been rightly interpreted by the Division Bench and that a hyper-technical approach ought not to be adopted in cases of compassionate appointments as they are exempted from the requirements of ordinary/normal recruitment procedure
The Supreme Court agreed with the contentions raised by the Appellants and observed, " 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."
The Court further held, "As observed above, 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 Bench referred to the recent Judgment in the matter of Treasuries in Karnataka & Anr. vs. V. Somashree and held that, "The compassionate ground is a concession and not a right. "
The Court observed that the Department had rightly rejected the Respondent's applications for the posts of Assistant Operator and Workshop Hand at the Police Radio Department as she was not eligible for either post. However, the Court also noted that the Respondent was offered the post of the Messenger, which she declined.
In the light of the aforementioned facts, the Court concluded that the Division Bench had misinterpreted Rule 5 of the Rules 1974.
"In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the Division Bench of the High Court has misinterpreted and misconstrued Rule 5 of the Rules 1974 and in observing and 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. As observed hereinabove such an interpretation would defeat the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate ground. ", held the Court.
In light of these observations, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment of the Division Bench of Allahabad High Court and dismissed the Writ Petition filed before the Single Judge by the Respondent.