Thursday, February 22, 2007

Compassionate Appointment - Supreme Court Judgment in Jaspal Kaur's Case

Compassionate Appointment
Appeal (Civil) 409 of 2007
State Bank of India & Ors. Vs. Jaspal Kaur
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/02/2007
BENCH: Dr. AR. Lakshmanan & Altamas Kabir
(To read full text of the Judgment click on the above hyperlink)

  • A major criterion while appointing a person on compassionate grounds should be the financial condition of the family the deceased person left behind. Unless the financial condition is entirely penury, such appointments cannot be made. In the present case the financial condition of the respondents family is not one of destitution, the appellants have already paid a sum of Rs.4,57,607/- as terminal benefits (after deducting Rs.19,183/- towards liabilities); a sum of Rs.2055/- p.m. was being paid towards family pension and monthly income under Staff Mutual Welfare Scheme and in addition the total monthly income of the family comes to Rs.5855/- (monthly pension of Rs.2055/- + Rs.3800/- p.m. as notional interest on the investment of Rs.4,57,607/-). The competent fact finding authority on the basis of the above financial details had arrived at the conclusion that the financial condition of the family is not penurious and that the family earns sufficient income to maintain themselves. Hence appointment on compassionate ground was not granted to the respondent. We however, do not feel the necessity to interfere with this order of the Bank Authority on the fact situation of this case.The competent authority of the bank had to consider the case of the respondent as per the laid down parameters laid down in the scheme. Accordingly, while deciding on the financial condition of the respondent factors like:

    a) Family Pension
    b) Gratuity
    c) Employee's/Employer's contribution to the Provident Fund
    d) Any compensation paid by the Bank or its Welfare Fund
    e) Proceeds of LIC Policy & other investments of the deceased employee
    f) Income for family from other sources
    g) Employment of other family members
    h) Size of the family and liabilities, if any, etc.

    were taken into consideration by the Competent Authority and based on these details appointment was declined to the respondent on compassionate ground.

  • Also we are of the view that the specially constituted authorities in the rules or regulations like the competent authority in this case are better equipped to decide the cases on facts of the case and their objective finding arrived on the appreciation of the full facts should not be disturbed. Both the Benches of the High Court that heard this present matter have erred in entertaining the claim of the respondent and allowing the claim of the respondent. This was the view taken in a recent decision of this Court in Union Bank of India and Others vs. M.T. Latheesh (supra), where the court observed that, "Learned Single Judge and the Division Bench by directing appointment has fettered the discretion of the appointing and selecting authorities. The Bank had considered the application of the respondent in terms of the statutory scheme framed by the Bank for such appointment".Finally in the fact situation of this case, Sri. Sukhbir Inder Singh (late), Record Assistant (Cash & Accounts) on 01.08.1999, in the Dhab Wasti Ram, Amritsar branch, passed away. The respondent, widow of Sri. Sukhbir Inder Singh applied for compassionate appointment in the appellant Bank on 05.02.2000 under the scheme which was formulated in 2005. The High Court also erred in deciding the matter in favour of the respondent applying the scheme formulated on 04.08.2005, when her application was made in 2000. A dispute arising in 2000 cannot be decided on the basis of a scheme that came into place much after the dispute arose, in the present matter in 2005. Therefore, the claim of the respondent that the income of the family of deceased is Rs.5855/- only, which is less than 40% of the salary last drawn by Late Shri. Sukhbir Inder Singh, in contradiction to the 2005 scheme does not hold water.

  • In the result, we allow the appeal filed by the appellant the Bank in this case and set aside the order passed by the two Benches of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. However, there shall be no order as to costs.

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