Bank of India & Anr Vs.
Somvir Singh  Insc 130 (13 February 2007)
H.K. Sema & B. Sudershan Reddy
(Arising out of SLP(c) No. 802 of 2006) B.SUDERSHAN REDDY,J.
The sole respondent is the son of Zile Singh who died while in harness on May 5, 1998. He was serving as an Assistant (typist/clerk) in the appellants-State Bank of
India (hereinafter referred to as appellant-Bank). The respondent's mother
submitted an application requesting the appellant-Bank for appointment of
respondent by way of compassionate appointment. The respondent at the relevant
time was studying in his matriculation examination. The Zonal Office of the
appellant-Bank at Chandigarh required the family of the deceased employee to
furnish the details of assets/pension/loan/income and other details as are
required in order to consider the compassionate appointment. The same were
furnished by the respondent. The Deputy General Manager of the Bank submitted
the proposal for the consideration of the Competent Authority in the printed
format inter alia indicating the details regarding the deceased employee,
terminal benefits, details of immovable property left behind him, investments
and liabilities as well as pension paid. The Deputy General Manager while
forwarding the request for consideration of the Chief General Manager observed
that the family of late Zile Singh has reasonable source of income to sustain
itself and therefore, the request for appointment on compassionate ground does
not qualify for favourable consideration. No doubt, the Branch Manager where
the deceased employee was working recommended the case for appointment on
compassionate ground. The Chief General Manager having regard to the financial
condition of the family found that the resources of the family are adequate to
meet its basic needs and accordingly rejected the request for appointment on
compassionate grounds. The Competent Authority found that the financial
condition of the family does not justify any such appointment on compassionate
The order of the Chief General Manager in detail reveals that the deceased
employee was entitled to Rs. 03.15 lacs towards terminal benefits and
investments out of which Rs. 02.52 lacs were deducted towards the liabilities
leaving net surplus of Rs. 00.63 lacs. The monthly family income included
family pension drawn from the Bank at Rs. 2,214/- and income on agricultural
land being Rs. 584/-. The family members are living in their own house. The
value of the agricultural land possessed by the family has been fixed at Rs. 7
It is under those circumstances the Bank found that the family of the
deceased employee had not been left in penury or without any means of
Challenging the order of rejection, the respondent filed a writ petition in
Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Division Bench held that the income of Rs.
2,798/- "could not be treated to be an amount for the family which could
be termed as such amount to take out the family from penury." The High
Court accordingly directed the appellant-Bank to reconsider the claim of the
petitioner for compassionate appointment keeping in view the entire facts and
circumstances of the case and the observations made in the order.
The order of the High Court is challenged in this appeal.
In this appeal Shri Mukul Rohtagi, learned senior counsel for the
appellant-Bank submitted that the High Court has committed error in directing
the appellant-Bank to reconsider the case of the respondent on compassionate
ground. The High Court ought to have appreciated that the provisions of the
Scheme viz. compassionate appointment applies only in cases wherein the
deceased employee left the family in penury and without any means of
livelihood. The monthly income derived by the family and the immovable
properties owned by it do not justify any appointment on compassionate ground.
The compassionate appointment can be made only in accordance with the scheme
and there is no right to claim any appointment de hors the scheme. The view
taken by the appellant-Bank according to the learned senior counsel to reject
the claim of the respondent is in conformity with the scheme.
Responding to the submissions made by the learned senior counsel, the
learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the amount paid towards the
terminal benefits and investments and the family pension cannot be taken into
consideration for the purposes of assessing as to whether dependants of
deceased employee are left without any means of livelihood.
We have given our earnest consideration to the rival submission made during
the course of hearing of this appeal.
Article 16(1) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens
equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to any
office under the State. Article 16(2) protects citizens against discrimination
in respect of any employment or office under the State on grounds only of
religion, race, caste, sex, descent.
It is so well settled and needs no restatement at our ends that appointment
on compassionate grounds is an exception carved out to the general rule that
recruitment to public services is to be made in a transparent and accountable
manner providing opportunity to all eligible persons to compete and participate
in the selection process.
Such appointments are required to be made on the basis of open invitation of
applications and merit. Dependants of employees died in harness do not have any
special or additional claim to public services other than the one conferred, if
any, by the employer.
SCC 138 ] this Court held, "As a rule, appointments in the public
services should be made strictly on the basis of open invitation of
applications and merit. No other mode of appointment nor any other
consideration is permissible. Neither the Governments nor the public authorities
are at liberty to follow any other procedure or relax the qualifications laid
down by the rules for the post. However, to this general rule which is to be
followed strictly in every case, there are some exceptions carved out in the
interest of justice and to meet certain contingencies. One such exception is in
favour of the dependants of an employee dying in harness and leaving his family
in penury and without any means of livelihood. In such cases, out of pure
humanitarian consideration taking into consideration the fact that unless some
source of livelihood is provided, the family would not be able to make both
ends meet, a provision is made in the rules to provide gainful employment to
one of the dependants of the deceased who may be eligible for such employment.
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 a member of
such family a post much less a post held by the deceased." (emphasis
added) 7 SCC 350], this Court while dealing with the similar question observed
that indiscriminate grant of employment on compassionate grounds would shut the
door for employment to the ever-growing population of unemployed youth.
There is no dispute whatsoever that the appellant-Bank is required to
consider the request for compassionate appointment only in accordance with the
scheme framed by it and no discretion as such left with any of the authorities
to make compassionate appointment de hors the scheme. In our considered opinion
the claim for compassionate appointment and the right, if any, is traceable
only to the scheme, executive instructions, rules etc. framed by the employer
in the matter of providing employment on compassionate grounds.
There is no right of whatsoever nature to claim compassionate appointment on
any ground other than the one, if any, conferred by the employer by way of
scheme or instructions as the case may be.
The scheme for appointment of dependants of deceased employee on
compassionate grounds framed by the appellant-Bank inter alia provides that in
making assessment of the financial condition of the family which is an
important criterion for determining the eligibility to compassionate
appointment, the following factors are required to be taken into consideration:
Gratuity amount received
Employee's/Employer's contribution to
Any compensation paid by the Bank or
its Welfare Fund
Proceeds of LIC Policy and other
investments of the deceased employee
Income for family from other sources
Income of other family members from
employment or otherwise
Size of the family and liabilities,
The Competent Authority while considering the application had taken into
consideration each one of those factors and accordingly found that the
dependants of employee who died in harness are not in penury and without any
means of livelihood. The Authority did not commit any error in taking the
terminal benefits and the investments and the monthly family income including
the family pension paid by the bank into consideration for the purposes of
deciding as to whether the family of late Zile Singh had been left in penury or
without any means of livelihood. The scheme framed by the appellant-Bank in
fact mandates the Authority to take those factors into consideration. The
Authority also did not commit any error in taking into consideration the income
of the family from other sources viz. the agricultural land.
In our considered opinion the High Court itself could not have undertaken
any exercise to decide as to what would be the reasonable income which would be
sufficient for the family for its survival and whether it had been left in
penury or without any means of livelihood.
The only question the High Court could have adverted itself is whether the
decision making process rejecting the claim of the respondent for compassionate
appointment is vitiated? Whether the order is not in conformity with the scheme
framed by the appellant-Bank? It is not even urged that the order passed by the
Competent Authority is not in accordance with the scheme. It is well settled
that the hardship of the dependant does not entitle one to compassionate
appointment de hors the scheme or the statutory provisions as the case may be.
The income of the family from all sources is required to be taken into
consideration according to scheme which the High Court altogether ignored while
remitting the matter for fresh consideration by the appellant-Bank. It is not a
case where the dependants of the deceased employee are left 'without any means
of livelihood' and unable to make both ends meet. The High Court ought not to
have disturbed the finding and the conclusion arrived at by the appellant- Bank
that the respondent was not living hand to mouth. As observed Tiwary and anr. [
(2004) 7 SCC 271], the High Court cannot dilute the criteria 'of penury to one
of' "not very well-to-do". The view taken by the Division Bench of
the High Court may amount to varying the existing scheme framed by the appellant-Bank.
Such a course is impermissible in law.
For all the aforesaid reasons, we allow the appeal filed by the
appellant-Bank and set aside the order passed by the Division Bench of the High
Court of Punjab and Haryana. There shall be no order as to costs.
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