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While upholding the need to maintain the sanctity of the undertaking that one gives to obtain compassionate appointment, the Calcutta High Court which is also the oldest High Court in India in a learned, laudable, latest and landmark judgment titled Smt Durgabala Mandal Vs The State of West Bengal & Ors. in FMA 334 of 2020 With CAN 1 of 2019 (Old CAN 6604 of 2019) delivered as recently as on January 20, 2022 has forthrightly observed that the daughter-in-law is bound by the undertaking given while obtaining a compassionate appointment to maintain and extend medical assistance to the mother-in-law. It must be mentioned here that the Court was adjudicating upon a plea that was moved by an 80 years old widow (appellant) whose husband had passed away a long time back. What also merits mentioning here is that the appellant’s son named Bajadulal Mandal who was working as a Primary School Teacher had also unfortunately passed away on October 14, 2014.

To start with, this cogent, commendable, composed, concise and creditworthy judgment authored by a Division Bench of Calcutta High Court comprising of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in the opening para that, “The affidavit of service filed by the appellant discloses that the respondent no. 9 is served. She is not appearing before this Court.”

As we see, the Division Bench then observes in the next para of this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment that, “In this appeal the appellant who is a widow lady aged about 80 years has challenged the order of the learned Single Judge dated 01.03.2019 whereby WP No. 3672(W) of 2019 has been dismissed.”

While disclosing the purpose of the writ petition, the Division Bench then specifies in the next para that, “The record reflects that the writ petition was filed by the appellant with the prayer to issue a direction to the respondent no. 9 to provide financial assistance to the appellant for survival and medical treatment.”

While dwelling on the background of this notable case, the Division Bench then envisages in the next para that, “The aforesaid prayer was made in the background of the fact that the husband of the appellant had died long back and her son Bajadulal Mandal was working a Primary School Teacher but unfortunate he also died on 14.10.2014. The daughter-in-law (wife of Bajadula Mandal) had applied for compassionate appointment in the school and had also filed the affidavit dated 25.07.2016 stating that she will bear the responsibility of all the maintenance with treatment of the appellant in future and forever.”

Needless to say, when one undertakes something in affidavit then one is bound to abide strictly by it. It goes without saying that each and every person who gives an undertaking in affidavit is bound to adhere to what is undertaken in it and it cannot be retracted later. So it merits no reiteration that the daughter-in-law who filed the affidavit has to abide by the undertaking she gave in her affidavit due to which she got the job on compassionate grounds!

While dwelling on the primary reason that left no other option for the appellant but to file the writ petition, the Bench then states in the next para of this extremely commendable judgment that, “However, after receiving the appointment the respondent no. 9 did not care of the appellant. Therefore, the appellant had initially filed WP 16153(W) of 2017 which was disposed of by order dated 18.09.2017 with liberty to the appellant to file a detailed representation before the respondent no. 5 therein and with a direction to the said respondent to decide the representation.”

While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then also mentions in the next para that, “Thereafter, the appellant has filed the representation dated 14.11.2017 which was dismissed by the District Inspector of Schools (PE) by order dated 14.12.2017 which led to filing of WP 2737(W) of 2018 by the appellant and this Court had permitted to the appellant to file the fresh representation and directed the appropriate authority to consider the same.”

What’s more, the Bench then points out in the next para that, “As no decision on the representation was taken the appellant approached the Writ Court by filing the petition but the learned Single Judge by the order under challenge has dismissed the petition taking the view that the appellant’s son aged about 37 years is in a position to look after her.”

Furthermore, while dwelling on the appellant’s contention, the Bench then states in the next para that, “It has been pointed out by learned counsel for the appellant that only surviving son of the appellant is unemployed and is not in a position to look after the appellant. He has also submitted that once the appointment on compassionate ground was obtained by the respondent no. 9 by giving an undertaking before the authorities that she will maintain the appellant then at this stage she cannot turn around and ignore the appellant.”

On the other side, the Division Bench then also adds in the next para that, “Learned counsel for the respondent no. 6 has also fairly submitted that if a fresh representation is filed by the appellant then the respondent no. 6 will duly look into it.”

It is worth noting that the Division Bench then points out explicitly in the next para that, “We have also perused the affidavit dated 25th July, 2016 which was submitted by the respondent no. 9 at the stage of obtaining the compassionate appointment. The said affidavit clearly states as under:

“2. That my husband Braja Dulal Mandal died on-14/10/2014 and he has an employee as a Primary School Teacher. 3. That I do hereby declare that in the event of my Appointment as a Clerk (C-Group) under the Government of West Bengal on compassionate ground, I shall be bound the entire responsibility along with all maintenance with treatment of my mother-in-law Srimatya Durga Bala Mandal in future and for ever.””

Most significantly and also most remarkably, what forms the real essence of this extremely commendable judgment is that it is then laid down most forthrightly without mincing any words most effectively, elegantly and eloquently that, “Once the respondent no. 9 had obtained the compassionate appointment by giving an undertaking as above to maintain and extend medical assistance to the appellant, then she is bound by that.”

As a corollary, it is a no-brainer that the Division Bench then very rightly holds in the next para that, “In these circumstances, we dispose of the present appeal granting liberty to the appellant to file an appropriate detailed representation before the respondent no. 6 who will duly consider the grievance of the appellant and pass an appropriate order after giving an opportunity to the appellant and the respondent no. 9 in accordance with law as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order along with the representation.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in the last para that, “The appeal and the connected application are accordingly disposed of.”

In sum, the Division Bench of Calcutta High Court has very rightly espoused the valid cause of the appellant and ruled very commendably and courageously as should have been done in this leading case. It has most commendably taken the most forthright stand that the daughter-in-law is bound by the undertaking given while obtaining a compassionate appointment to maintain and extend medical assistance to the mother-in-law. No denying it!

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