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SC: Offering Employment on Compassionate Grounds is ‘Concession’ Rather than ‘Right’

3 min read

Tanisha Rana

Published on: October 3, 2022 at 21:26 IST

According to the Supreme Court, offering employment on compassionate grounds is a concession rather than a right because the goal is to help the affected family get through an unexpected catastrophe.

The Kerala High Court’s division bench decision, which upheld a single judge’s decision directing Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. and Others to consider appointing a woman on compassionate grounds, was overturned last week by the Supreme Court.

Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari’s bench noticed that the woman’s father worked for Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. and passed away in the line of duty in April 1995.

It was highlighted that at the time of his passing, his wife was employed, making her ineligible for nomination on the basis of compassion.

“After a period of 24 years from the death of the employee, the respondent shall not be entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground,”  the bench said.

According to the law established by the highest court regarding appointments made out of compassion, all applicants should be given the same opportunity to apply for any open government positions as required by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

The Constitution’s Articles 14 and 16 address equality before the law and equal opportunity for public employment, respectively.

“However, appointment on compassionate ground offered to a dependent of a dead employee is an exception to the said norms. The compassionate ground is a concession and not a right,” the bench said in its judgment delivered on September 30.

The apex court mentioned that the employee’s daughter was still a juvenile when he passed away in 1995.

She applied for a position on compassionate grounds after reaching the age of majority, according to the court.

It further mentioned that his daughter had submitted an application for an appointment on compassionate grounds after a time of roughly 14 years had passed since his passing.

According to the bench, who cited earlier rulings by the Supreme Court, compassionate appointments are an exception to the general rule of appointment in the public sector and are made in favour of dependents of a person who dies in the line of duty and leaves his family in need and without a means of support.

According to the court, in certain situations, a regulation is set to provide gainful employment to one of the deceased employee’s dependents who may be qualified for such employment out of pure humanitarian regard.

“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 dead employee,” the bench said.

In granting the appeal brought by Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. and Others against the high court’s judgment from March of this year, the court stated that if such an appointment were to be made at this time, it would be contrary to the intent and purpose of the appointment on compassionate grounds that was allowed.

Setting aside the ruling from the high court, it stated that in ordering the appellants to re-examine the woman’s application for an appointment on compassionate grounds, both the single judge and the division bench had erred.

The bench noted that her request for a compassionate appointment had been turned down in February 2018 on the grounds that her name had not been included on the deceased employee’s list of dependents, and that it was company policy to hire the widow, son, or unmarried daughter of an employee instead.

It further mentioned that the appellants had once more denied her request for an appointment on compassionate grounds in December 2019 on the basis that 24 years had passed since the employee’s passing.

Since his wife was earning a living at the Kerala State Health Services Department at the time of his death, the plan also failed to meet the requirement that the deceased employee serve as the “sole earner of his family,” according to the court.