SC’s new definition of job on compassionate grounds
22 March 2008
NEW DELHI: If you have been fighting for a job on compassionate grounds for years in India, don’t be too sure of getting it. For the Supreme Court believes if you have managed to survive long enough without it then you may not be a deserving candidate.
In an irony of sorts, the apex court has held that a family that has managed to survive for a substantial period after the death of its sole breadwinner is ineligible for a job on compassionate grounds.
A bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice V.S. Sirpurkar delivered this ruling last yesterday while dismissing an appeal for a job on compassionate grounds by the widow of a Maharashtra school peon who died 12 years ago.
The bench dismissed the peon’s widow Mumtaz Yunus Mulani’s plea, saying: “About 12 years have passed. The appellant’s son is aged about 20 years now and the daughter is aged about 16 years. Therefore, they have become major. The appellant herself would be aged about 38 years now. She cannot be given any appointment at this age.”
The bench supported its decision with a precedent laid down by the apex court in 2006 while adjudicating another case. “Once it is proved that in spite of the death of the breadwinner, the family survived and a substantial period is over, there is no necessity to” give a job on compassionate grounds, the bench said, quoting from the 2006 ruling.
The bench said a job on compassionate grounds is given as an exceptional measure, violating the fundamental right of equality to other candidates for the job.
Holding “competitive merits” to be “the basis for the appointment to a public office”, the bench ruled that this “general rule” for appointment “should not be departed from except in compelling circumstances, such as, death of the sole breadwinner and likelihood of the family suffering because of the setback”.
But “once it is proved that in spite of the death of the breadwinner, the family survived and a substantial period is over, there is no necessity to say goodbye to the normal rule of appointment and to show favour to one at the cost of the interests of several others ignoring the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution,” the bench ruled.
Yunus Dastagir Mulani had died in September 1996 while working as peon at a vocational institute in Maharashtra. His widow Mumtaz sought a job on compassionate grounds, but did not get it as she was being given a pension of Rs1,100 after her husband’s death.
After the widow lost her case in the Bombay High Court, she moved the Supreme Court early this year.While holding that receiving the pension could not be the sole or sufficient ground for denying the job, the apex court said that the ability to survive for a long period was certainly a ground for denial.