Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has ruled that the death of an employee while in service doesn’t automatically entitle their family to a compassionate appointment.

The Court emphasized that the financial condition of the family must be examined, and jobs should only be offered if the family cannot meet the crisis without it, provided there is a relevant scheme or rule.

Justice Rajesh Sekhri, made this observation while dismissing a petition filed by two men seeking compassionate appointments in the Jammu and Kashmir State Handloom Development Corporation.

Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Ishfaq Ahmad Bhat, whose fathers passed away in 2007 and 2002 respectively while working for the Corporation, applied for compassionate appointments. The Corporation recommended their cases, but there were delays in processing them. The petitioners then approached the High Court challenging the rejection of their applications.

The petitioners argued that the Corporation had discriminated against them by appointing others on compassionate grounds while rejecting their applications. They claimed that their fathers’ deaths had caused them financial hardship and they were entitled to compassionate appointments.

The Corporation, on the other hand, contended that the petitioners’ applications were delayed for several years and that their financial situation had likely improved over time. They argued that compassionate appointments are meant to provide immediate relief to families facing financial crisis due to the death of the breadwinner, and the petitioners’ case didn’t meet this criteria.

They highlighted that the Board of Directors (BOD) had rejected the petitioners’ cases in its 61st and 63rd meetings due to lack of required documents and the considerable delay in submission and the Corporation was financially struggling, with salaries in arrears for the last 18 months.

Justice Sekhri, citing a string of Supreme Court judgments, emphasised that compassionate appointments are not a matter of right but a means to address immediate financial hardship caused by the death of a government employee. The court observed the government or concerned authority must examine the family’s financial condition to determine if they require immediate support through employment.

“..mere death of an employee in harness, ipso facto, would not confer an entitlement in the family to such a source of livelihood and Government or the public authority concerned has to examine the financial condition of the family of the deceased and it is only if it is satisfied that but for the provision of employment, family of the deceased may not be able to meet the crisis, a job is to be offered to the eligible member of the family, provided further that a Scheme or the rule provides for the same”, the bench remarked.

Observing that compassionate appointment is not a source of recruitment but a means to enable the family of the deceased to tide over a sudden financial crisis the court stated that compassionate appointments cannot be equated as a form of inheritance based on a line of succession.

Acknowledging some negligence on the part of the Corporation in handling the petitioners’ applications the court, however, noted the significant delay (17 and 22 years respectively since their fathers’ deaths) and ruled that the petitioner’s claims couldn’t be entertained as they likely no longer faced the initial financial crisis.

The Court concluded that despite the initial recommendation of the petitioners’ cases, the delayed submission and the subsequent ability of the petitioners to sustain themselves over the years meant that the essence of compassionate appointments was no longer relevant. (via. Live Law)