AJIJ JAMAN BARBHUIYA Vs. STATE OF ASSAM AND 4 ORS
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
Ajij Jaman Barbhuiya
State Of Assam And 4 Ors
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Manojit Bhuyan, J. -
(1.) At first blush, this case, touching on the issue of appointment on compassionate ground, appears to be misconceived and without merit, having regard to the scheme of compassionate appointment. A closer look reveals otherwise and conveys a message of serious concern and sparks an apprehension whether the State respondents are sincere in their effort to implement the scheme ensuring that persons who are deserving of such appointments are not hopelessly abandoned. It is also a matter of concern whether the process of compassionate appointments is misused to suit the interest of vested circles. The facts in the instant case gives an impression that the State respondents are not too serious about it and are going about in a slipshod manner, allowing applications to gather dust for years and then summarily reject it as having spent its force. If that be so, it cannot be permitted and those responsible must be made accountable. There can be no unfettered discretion immune from judicial review on the part of the State respondents in picking and choosing persons for making compassionate appointment. It must always be uppermost in mind that time is always of essence for making compassionate appointment because the very object of such appointments are to save the family from immediate distress, which normally visits the family with the loss of the bread earner. Penury and destitution are the yardsticks on which compassionate appointment is required to be made within the earliest possible time, as delay in making such appointment would not only be fatal but defeat the very purpose of the scheme of compassionate appointment. This state of affairs would require attention and deliberation of the highest Executive functionaries in the State.
(2.) In the case at hand, the appellant's father died in harness on 06.08.2009 and during the relevant period he was serving as a Forester under Cachar Social Forestry Division. The appellant made application on 07.10.2009 in proper format giving all necessary particulars to establish his candidature for compassionate appointment. His case was placed before the District Level Committee, Cachar as late as on 30.07.2014. For making recommendations for appointments under the establishment of the Divisional Forest Officer, Social Forestry Division, Silchar, the District Level Committee considered the cases of four persons, which included the appellant as well. Against the resultant vacancies existing as on November, 2013, the appellant was recommended for appointment to the post of Forest Guard. In the Minutes of the meeting of the District Level Committee, the vacancy position of Forest Guard as on November, 2013 was shown as 18 nos. Two years elapsed awaiting the final approval of the State Level Committee. When no information was forthcoming, the appellant instituted WP(C) 5703/2016, which was disposed of on 21.09.2016 with direction to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam and to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Assam to place the appellant's case before the State Level Committee, if the same had not been considered earlier. The Court directed that the appellant's case be considered as per the guidelines framed by this Court and Office Memorandums issued by the State Government, in its next meeting, if it had not been considered earlier. The appellant was constrained to institute the second writ petition i.e. the related WP(C) 3607/2017 when he came to learn that the State Level Committee had met on 09.12.2015 and rejected the cases of 38 applicants, including that of the appellant, on the ground that since the bread earner in the family died long back in the year 2009/2010, therefore, their cases cannot be considered for appointment on compassionate ground at such belated stage. The said writ petition was dismissed on 16.06.2017 by recording that the decision taken by the State Level Committee on 09.12.2015 was consistent with the legal principles governing compassionate appointment. The learned Single Judge also observed that when the family of the deceased employee managed to sustain itself for 6/7 years without the benefit of a Government job, the denial of the benefit of the compassionate appointment to such category of persons cannot be said to be unreasonable. It is against this order that the present appeal is laid.
(3.) During the course of hearing, Mr. R. Dhar, learned Additional Senior Government Advocate, Assam have produced a copy of the Minutes of the meeting dated 11.08.2017 of the State Level Committee. The said Minutes provides the necessary information with regard to the case of the appellant. It is shown that the case of the appellant pertained to the year 2009 and the State Level Committee considered his case in the meeting held on 01.04.2015 and thereafter on 09.12.2015. However, the appellant was not selected due to want of vacancy. Again, following the Court's order dated 21.09.2016, as aforestated, the appellant's case was considered but, yet again, the State Level Committee held that in the absence of any vacancies and coupled with the fact that more than 8 years have elapsed, the appellant's case no longer falls within the period of consideration for compassionate appointment. Accordingly, the State Level Committee treated his case as having spent its force.;
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