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High Court Rules Compassionate Appointment Should Be Granted Based On Financial Distress Rather Than Inherited Entitlement

Raya Banerjee ,
  19 April 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka
Brief :

Citation :
Writ Petition No. 27347 of 2023

CASE TITLE:

Smt. K. Lakshmi vs. Canara Bank 

DATE OF ORDER:

20th February, 2024

BENCH:

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum

PARTIES:

Petitioner: Smt. K. Lakshmi

Respondent: Canara Bank 

SUBJECT: 

The instant petition before the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka (hereinafter referred to as ‘the High Court’ or ‘the Court’) revolves around the petitioner seeking an appointment in a bank her father was an employee at before his demise on compassionate grounds, but the appointment was not granted to her. The petitioner argued that the bank’s rejection was discriminatory and she was eligible for a compassionate appointment. The High Court ruled that such an appointment should be granted based on the financial distress of a person and not on inheritance. The petition was accordingly dismissed. 

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

  • Section 125:

Focuses on the maintenance of wives, children, and parents.Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  • Section 24:

Addresses maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings.

  • Section 25:

Deals with permanent alimony and maintenance.The Divorce Act,1869

  • Section 37:

Concerns maintenance of wives and children.Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

  • Section 40:

Focuses on permanent alimony and the maintenance of wives and children.Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

  • Section 20:

It focuses on the right to reside in a shared household and protection orders.Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • Section 36:

Deals with maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings.

  • Section 37:

Deals with permanent alimony and maintenance.Constitution of India

  • Article 15:

Prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, sex, race, caste or place of birth.

OVERVIEW:

  • The petitioner’s father, a bank employee, passed away in harness on October 6, 2022, while working as a clerk for the respondents-Bank.
  • The petitioner applied for a compassionate appointment.
  • Respondent-Bank denied the application with an endorsement dated 15.06.2023 according to Annexure-B and a letter dated 10.10.2023 according to Annexure-G. The reason given for the rejection was that the petitioner was a married daughter and could not be considered dependent on her father.
  • The Respondent-Bank’s compassionate appointment scheme granted consideration to dependant family members who meet certain criteria like a spouse, ‘Wholly dependent brother or sister in the case of an unmarried employee, or entirely dependent son, or entirely dependent daughter.’
  • All daughters were eligible if they were completely dependent, and the scheme’s criteria do not exclude a married daughter from the definition of “dependent family member.”
  • The objective of compassionate appointment is helpful, so it is necessary to interpret the fact that unmarried daughters are included in the definition of ‘ dependent family member’ in a literal, purposeful, and beneficial manner.

ISSUE RAISED:

  • Whether the bank have the authority to reject the petitioner’s application for a compassionate appointment scheme?
  • Whether the petitioner was eligible and had the authority to claim the compassionate appointment scheme?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER:

  • The petitioner’s parents were residing with her and her family before her father passed away. The petitioner’s family and her livelihood were entirely dependent on the Late Shri Kaverappa M., her father.
  • The petitioner’s mother’s pension payments are insufficient to cover the family’s expenses, and they are living in extreme poverty
  • The petitioner’s mother was severely hurt in a horrific road accident before the Late Shri Kaverappa M’s passing, leaving her immobile. Therefore, she proposed that the petitioner be given a compassionate appointment.
  • Due to parity between married/unmarried daughters and married sons the petitioner’s request for equitable treatment of married and single daughters and married sons in the context of compassionate appointment is without legal basis and is not backed by the existing body of law.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:

  • In defending the contested letter, the respondent argued that the petitioner’s claim is denied not because she is a married daughter but rather because she is unable to claim to be a dependent daughter to her marital status.
  • The respondent informed the court that through the discovery of a note, the petitioner’s mother has been receiving terminal benefits, including SPF, gratuity, differential SPF, PL Encashment, and GTLI Policy.
  •  After discovering that the petitioner is a married daughter and evaluating her eligibility, the respondent bank denied the application because she is not entirely dependent on the deceased.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS:

  • The Court clarified the bare perusal of the definition of the term ‘dependant family member’, and did not discriminate between a son and a daughter.  Moreover, eligibility to seek an appointment on compassionate grounds was rather simple under the Bank Scheme and contemplated whether a son or daughter must be entirely dependent to seek an appointment.
  • The Court highlighted the husband’s obligation to provide for his wife and reiterated the principle that compassionate appointment aimed to alleviate the immediate financial distress of the deceased’s family instead of granting entitlements based on their marital status. 
  • It is necessary to note that although the Apex Court had repeatedly held that receiving a pension and terminal benefits does not give rise to a denial of compassionate appointment, which is to alleviate the financial hardship that a family faces immediately after a family member passes away, seems to have been achieved.
  • The Court ruled that equality may apply to inheritance matters, but the criteria for compassionate appointment eligibility is based on dependency and financial needs. 
  • The significant income the dependents get guarantees their financial security and capacity to live independently without requiring extra assistance through compassionate appointments.
  • According to the previously mentioned cause. The Judge did not incline to indulge. For this reason, he granted the order dismissing the writ appeal. 

CONCLUSION:

The High Court held that the rejection of the petitioner’s application was justified as it was not based on her dependency status and the petitioner was not being discriminated against based on gender. The Court recognized that the humanitarian imperative to alleviate financial distress should be the criteria for grounds of compassionate appointment rather than an individual’s marital status. The High Court reaffirmed the lower court’s decision and subsequently dismissed the petition.
 

 
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