Karnataka HC rules against sister's eligibility for compassionate appointment following her married brother's demise
A sister does not figure in the definition of "family" of her brother, the Karnataka High Court said, dismissing the contention of a woman seeking a job on compassionate grounds after her brother's death.
The bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit was hearing an appeal filed by Pallavi GM, a 29-year-old resident of Tumakuru.
"Courts through the process of interpretation cannot expand the contours of a statutory definition. When the rule-maker in so many words has specified the persons as being the members of the family of an employee, we cannot add one to or delete one from the definition of family. An argument to the contrary, if accepted, would amount to rewriting the Rule, and therefore, cannot be countenanced," the High Court said.
She had challenged the March 30, 2023 order of a single-judge bench which dismissed her petition seeking appointment on compassionate grounds.
Her brother, who was employed in BESCOM, the state power transmission company, died in harness.
Her counsel argued that she was dependent on her brother, which made her a member of his family and hence a candidate for appointment on compassionate grounds.
The counsel for BESCOM contended: "The compassionate appointment is an exception to the rule of equality in the matter of public employment. Therefore, the scheme providing for the same needs to be strictly construed. If so construed, the appellant who is admittedly a sister of the deceased employee is not entitled to any compassionate appointment."
The High Court in its judgment concurred with the argument of the BESCOM counsel and said, "It has been a long-settled position of law that only a member of the family of the deceased employee alone can stake his/her claim for appointment on compassionate grounds, that too by producing material to vouch dependence on the employee who died in harness."
"A sister does not figure in the definition is obvious. The appellant being a sister cannot be construed as a member of the family of the deceased," according to the Companies Act 1956 and Companies Act 2013 which the BESCOM follows, the High Court said.
It also noted that there was no material to show that she was dependent on her brother at the time of his death.
Dismissing the appeal, the court said, "The above apart, absolutely no material is placed on record by the appellant to show that she was dependent on the income of her brother at the time of his death in harness nor there is any material to assume that the family of the deceased is in financial distress as would justify the claim for appointment on compassionate grounds."