Case Title: Managing Director, Ecil, Hyderabad And Others v. B. Karunakar And Others Supreme Court Of India Oct 1, 1993

Question of Law: The basic question of law which arises in these matters is whether the report of the enquiry officer/authority who/which is appointed by the disciplinary authority to hold an inquiry into the charges against the delinquent employee is required to be furnished to the employee to enable him to make proper representation to the disciplinary authority before such authority arrives at its own finding with regard to the guilt or otherwise of the employee and the punishment, if any, to be awarded to him.

Hon'ble Court Ruling: The Court held that every public servant is entitled to have the whole of the matter brought to his notice before he was asked to show cause why a particular punishment should not be meted out to him. The disciplinary authority has to consider the record of the inquiry and arrive at its own conclusion on each charge. The Court held that whenever the enquiry officer is other than the disciplinary authority and the report of the enquiry officer holds the employee guilty of all or any of the charges with a proposal for any punishment or not, the delinquent employee is entitled to a copy of the report to enable him to make a representation to the disciplinary authority against it, and the non-furnishing of the report amounts to a violation of the rules of natural justice. However, after taking this view, the Court directed that the law laid down there shall have prospective application, and the punishment which is already imposed shall not be open to challenge on that ground.

However, Hon'ble Supreme Court in Haryana Financial Corporation and And vs Kailash Chandra Ahuja in Judgment dated 08.07.2008, held “Whether in fact, prejudice has been caused to the employee or not on account of the denial to him of the report, has to be considered on the facts and circumstances of each case”: 

21. From the ratio laid down in B. Karunakar, it is explicitly clear that the doctrine of natural justice requires supply of a copy of the Inquiry Officer’s report to the delinquent if such Inquiry Officer is other than the Disciplinary Authority. It is also clear that non-supply of report of Inquiry Officer is in the breach of natural justice. But it is equally clear that failure to supply a report of Inquiry Officer to the delinquent employee would not ipso facto result in proceedings being declared null and void and order of punishment non est and ineffective. It is for the delinquent-employee to plead and prove that non-supply of such report had caused prejudice and resulted in miscarriage of justice. If he is unable to satisfy the Court on that point, the order of punishment cannot automatically be set aside.

24. In our considered view, the High Court was wrong in making the above observation and virtually in ignoring the ratio of B. Karunakar that prejudice should be shown by the delinquent. To repeat, in B. Karunakar, this Court stated; “Whether in fact, prejudice has been caused to the employee or not on account of the denial to him of the report, has to be considered on the facts and circumstances of each case”.

Case Title: Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana (1994) 4 SCC 138 - Employment on Compassionate Ground 

In Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana (1994) 4 SCC 138, this Court held thus:

“2…The whole object of granting compassionate employment is thus to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis. The object is not to give a member of such family a post much less a post for post held by the deceased. What is further, mere death of an employee in harness does not entitle his family to such source of livelihood. The 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, the family will not be able to meet the crisis that a job is to be offered to the eligible member of the family. The posts in Classes III and IV are the lowest posts in non-manual and manual categories and hence they alone can be offered on compassionate grounds, the object being to relieve the family, of the financial destitution and to help it get over the emergency.”

Case Title: The State Of West Bengal Versus Debabrata Tiwari & Ors. Civil Appeal Nos 8842-8855 OF 2022; 3 March, 2023: Compassionate Appointment - Principles

7.2. On consideration of the aforesaid decisions of this Court, the following principles emerge:

i. That a provision for compassionate appointment makes a departure from the general provisions providing for appointment to a post by following a particular procedure of recruitment. Since such a provision enables appointment being made without following the said procedure, it is in the nature of an exception to the general provisions and must be resorted to only in order to achieve the stated objectives, i.e., to enable the family of the deceased to get over the sudden financial crisis.

ii. Appointment on compassionate grounds is not a source of recruitment. The reason for making such a benevolent scheme by the State or the public sector undertaking is to see that the dependants of the deceased are not deprived of the means of livelihood. It only enables the family of the deceased to get over the sudden financial crisis.

iii. Compassionate appointment is not a vested right which can be exercised at any time in future. Compassionate employment cannot be claimed or offered after a lapse of time and after the crisis is over.

iv. That compassionate appointment should be provided immediately to redeem the family in distress. It is improper to keep such a case pending for years.

v. In determining as to whether the family is in financial crisis, all relevant aspects must be borne in mind including the income of the family, its liabilities, the terminal benefits if any, received by the family, the age, dependency and marital status of its members, together with the income from any other source.

7.3. The object underlying a provision for grant of compassionate employment is to enable the family of the deceased employee to tide over the sudden crisis due to the death of the bread-earner which has left the family in penury and without any means of livelihood. Out of pure humanitarian consideration and having regard to the fact that unless some source of livelihood is provided, the family would not be in a position to make both ends meet, a provision is made for giving gainful appointment to one of the dependants of the deceased who may be eligible for such appointment. Having regard to such an object, it would be of no avail to grant compassionate appointment to the dependants of the deceased employee, after the crisis which arose on account of death of a bread-winner, has been overcome. Thus, there is also a compelling need to act with a sense of immediacy in matters concerning compassionate appointment because on failure to do so, the object of the scheme of compassionate would be frustrated. Where a long lapse of time has occurred since the date of death of the deceased employee, the sense of immediacy for seeking compassionate appointment would cease to exist and thus lose its significance and this would be a relevant circumstance which must weigh with the authorities in determining as to whether a case for the grant of compassionate appointment has been made out for consideration.

7.5. Considering the second question referred to above, in the first instance, regarding whether applications for compassionate appointment could be considered after a delay of several years, we are of the view that, in a case where, for reasons of prolonged delay, either on the part of the applicant in claiming compassionate appointment or the authorities in deciding such claim, the sense of immediacy is diluted and lost. Further, the financial circumstances of the family of the deceased, may have changed, for the better, since the time of the death of the government employee. In such circumstances, Courts or other relevant authorities are to be guided by the fact that for such prolonged period of delay, the family of the deceased was able to sustain themselves, most probably by availing gainful employment from some other source. Granting compassionate appointment in such a case, as noted by this Court in Hakim Singh would amount to treating a claim for compassionate appointment as though it were a matter of inheritance based on a line of succession which is contrary to the Constitution. Since compassionate appointment is not a vested right and the same is relative to the financial condition and hardship faced by the dependents of the deceased government employee as a consequence of his death, a claim for compassionate appointment may not be entertained after lapse of a considerable period of time since the death of the government employee.

Case title: Malaya Nanda Sethy Versus State of Orissa and others - Judgment dated 20.05.2022

The Supreme Court opined that the applications for appointment on compassionate ground ought to be decided in a time bound manner and not beyond a period of six months from the date of submission of the completed applications. The Apex Court was apprehensive that if the applications are not decided expeditiously, then the whole purpose of such appointments would be frustrated.

"…considering the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds, i.e., a family of a deceased employee may be placed in a position of financial hardship upon the untimely death of the employee while in service and the basis or policy is immediacy in rendering of financial assistance to the family of the deceased consequent upon his untimely death, the authorities must consider and decide such applications for appointment on compassionate grounds as per the policy prevalent, at the earliest, but not beyond a period of six months from the date of submission of such completed applications."