Fighting for job on compassionate grounds? Think again

March 21st, 2008 - 10:36 am ICT by admin  

By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) If you have managed to survive long enough while fighting for a job on compassionate grounds after the death of the sole breadwinner of your family, you might have already rendered yourself ineligible for the job. So says the Supreme Court. In an irony of sorts, the Supreme Court has held that a family that has managed to survive long enough 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 Friday while dismissing an appeal for a job on compassionate grounds by the widow of a Maharashtra school peon, who died in harness 12 years ago.

The bench dismissed the peon’s widow Mumtaz Yunus Mulani’s plea saying “about 12 years have passed. Appellant’s son is aged about 20 years now and daughter is aged about 16 years. Therefore, they have become major. Appellant herself would be aged about 38 years now. She cannot be given any appointment at this age.”

While denying the peon’s widow a job on compassionate groundx, the bench supported its decision by a law laid down by the apex court in 2006 while adjudicating another case for job on compassionate grounds.

“Once it is proved that in spite of the death of the breadwinner, the family survived and substantial period is over, there is no necessity to” give a job on compassionate grounds, the bench said, quoting from the earlier 2006 ruling of the apex court.

Quoting the 2006 ruling of the apex court related to another appeal of similar nature, the bench said that a job on a compassionate ground 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 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.

The case related to the plea by the widow of Yunus Dastagir Mulani, who died in September 1996 while working as a peon in a vocational institute in Maharashtra. His widow Mumtaz sought a job on compassionate grounds but was declined the job on the ground that she was given a paltry pension of Rs 1,100 after her husband’s death.

After the widow lost her case in Bombay High Court, she moved the Supreme Court early this year.

While holding that receiving pension could not be sole or sufficient ground for denying one a job on compassionate grounds, the apex court said that his ability to survive for long is certainly a ground to deny him or her the job.

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