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Karnataka

Compassionate Appointment: Only Unmarried, Widowed Daughter Dependent Under Karnataka Law, Says SC

The top court’s verdict came while scrutinising the Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules, 1996 and said that it does not include ‘divorced daughter’ as eligible for appointment on compassionate ground and amendment was added later in 2021.

File Photo of Supreme Court. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday ruled that only ‘unmarried daughter’ and ‘widowed daughter’ who were dependent upon the deceased government servant at the time of death and living with him or her can be said to be ‘dependent’ and eligible for appointment on compassionate ground under a Karnataka law.

The top court’s verdict came while scrutinising the Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules, 1996 and said that it does not include ‘divorced daughter’ as eligible for appointment on compassionate ground and amendment was added later in 2021.

A bench comprising Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose said that appointment to any public post in the service of the State has to be made on the basis of principles in accordance with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution and the compassionate appointment is an exception to the general rule.

It also observed that the dependent of the deceased Government employee are made eligible by virtue of the policy on compassionate appointment and they must fulfill the norms laid down by the State’s policy.

The top court held that the norms prevailing on the date of the consideration of the application should be the basis for consideration of claim of compassionate appointment.

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The apex court made the observations while setting aside an order of Karnataka High Court which quashed the order passed by the Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal, Bengaluru on the issue.

The high court had directed The Director of Treasuries in Karnataka and others to consider the application of a ‘divorced daughter’ for grant of compassionate appointment.

The top court said Rule 2 and Rule 3 of Karnataka Civil Services (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Rules 1996 do not include ‘divorced daughter’ as eligible for appointment on compassionate ground and even as ‘dependent’.

“Only ‘unmarried daughter’ and ‘widowed daughter’ who were dependent upon the deceased female Government servant at the time of her death and living with her can be said to be ‘dependent’ of a deceased Government servant and that ‘an unmarried daughter’ and ‘widowed daughter’ only can be said to be eligible for appointment on compassionate ground in the case of death of the female Government servant,” the bench said.

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The apex court said the norms prevailing on the date of consideration of the application should be the basis of consideration of claim for compassionate appointment.

The bench said the word ‘divorced daughter’ has been added subsequently by Amendment, 2021.

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“Therefore, at the relevant time when the deceased employee died and when the original writ petitioner – respondent herein made an application for appointment on compassionate ground the ‘divorced daughter’ were not eligible for appointment on compassionate ground and the ‘divorced daughter’ was not within the definition of ‘dependent,” the bench said.

The apex court said that apart from the above one additional aspect needs to be noticed, which the High Court has failed to consider.

The bench said that it is to be noted that the deceased employee died on March 25, 2012 and the respondent at that time was a married daughter and her marriage was subsisting on the date of the death of the deceased.

Immediately on the death of the deceased employee, the respondent initiated the divorced proceedings under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on September 12, 2012 for decree of divorce by mutual consent, the bench noted.

It noted that on March 20, 2013, the Principal Civil Judge, Mandya granted the decree of divorce by mutual consent and immediately on the very next day the daughter on the basis of the decree of divorce by mutual consent applied for appointment on compassionate ground.

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“The aforesaid chronology of dates and events would suggest that only for the purpose of getting appointment on compassionate ground the decree of divorce by mutual consent has been obtained. Otherwise, as a married daughter she was not entitled to the appointment on compassionate ground.

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“Therefore, looking to the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case, otherwise also the High Court ought not to have directed the appellants to consider the application of the respondent herein for appointment on compassionate ground as ‘divorced daughter’. This is one additional ground to reject the application of the respondent for appointment on compassionate ground,” the bench said.

The apex court said that even otherwise, it is required to be noted that at the time when the deceased employee died, the marriage between the respondent and her husband was subsisting.

Therefore, at the time when the deceased employee died she was a married daughter and therefore, also cannot be said to be ‘dependent’ as defined under Rule 2 of the Rules 1996, it said.

“Therefore, even if it is assumed that the ‘divorced daughter’ may fall in the same class of ‘unmarried daughter’ and ‘widowed daughter’ in that case also the date on which the deceased employee died she – respondent herein was not the ‘divorced daughter’ as she obtained the divorce by mutual consent subsequent to the death of the deceased employee,” the bench said.

Therefore, also the respondent shall not be eligible for the appointment on compassionate ground on the death of her mother and deceased employee, it said.

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