Sympathy alone cannot give remedy, remarked the Supreme Court while ‘reluctantly’ setting aside a High Court order which directed a bank to consider an application seeking compassionate appointment filed by the son of its deceased employee.

Sympathy alone cannot give remedy, remarked the Supreme Court while ‘reluctantly’ setting aside a High Court order which directed a bank to consider an application seeking compassionate appointment filed by the son of its deceased employee.

Jagdish Raj worked as Clerk-cum-Shroff in the Indian Bank, where he continued to work till his demise. Later, an application was filed on behalf of the son seeking compassionate employment on account of demise of Jagdish Raj. The relevant scheme provided that if the dependents opted for payment of gratuity for the term of service of the employee who died while in service, no compassionate appointment could be granted. In this case, dependents had availed the benefit of gratuity. The bank, therefore, rejected the application.

Allowing the writ petition challenging this rejection, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the bank to pay Rs.2 lakh ex gratia payment and also to consider the application for compassionate appointment. The bank approached the Apex Court, contending that, having taken the full amount of gratuity, the option of compassionate appointment really was not available to the dependents of Jagdish Raj.

The bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph, taking note of the schemes in question observed that the dependants cannot claim benefit under them. It said:

It is trite to emphasise, based on numerous judicial pronouncements of this Court, that compassionate appointment is not an alternative to the normal course of appointment, and that there is no inherent right to seek compassionate appointment. The objective is only to provide solace and succour to the family in difficult times and, thus, the relevancy is at that stage of time when the employee passes away. An aspect examined by this judgment is as to whether a claim for compassionate employment under a scheme of a particular year could be decided based on a subsequent scheme that came into force much after the claim. The answer to this has been emphatically in the negative. It has also been observed that the grant of family pension and payment of terminal benefits cannot be treated as a substitute for providing employment assistance. The crucial aspect is to turn to the scheme itself to consider as to what are the provisions made in the scheme for such compassionate appointment

It further observed that it is not for the Courts to substitute a Scheme or add or subtract from the terms thereof in judicial review. While setting aside the HC judgment, the bench observed:

“We may have sympathy with the respondents about the predicament they faced on the demise of Shri Jagdish Raj, but then sympathy alone cannot give remedy to the respondents, more so when the relevant benefits available to the respondents have been granted by the appellant-Bank and when respondent No.1, herself, was in employment having monthly income above the benchmark. We have, thus, no option but to reluctantly set aside the impugned order and dismiss the writ petition originally filed by the respondents”

Case name: Indian Bank vs. Promila
Case no.: C.A. 2798 of 2010
Coram: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph

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