MANOJ THAKUR Vs. STATE BANK OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF UTTARAKHAND
STATE BANK OF INDIA
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SUDHANSHU DHULIA, J. -
(1.) THE father of the petitioner was an employee in State Bank of India (from hereinafter referred to as Bank). He died in harness on 13.10.1999 while working as Record Keeper in SBI, Raipur Branch, Dehradun. The deceased employee at the time of his death had left his widow who at the relevant time was aged about 42 years, a daughter aged about 16 years and two sons 22 years and 23 years of age respectively. One of them being the present petitioner Manoj Thakur, who was at the relevant time was aged about 23 years. He promptly filed an application for appointment on compassionate ground before the concerned authority on 25.10.1999. This application was rejected on 15.12.2000, after a period of more than one year. The reasons assigned for rejecting the claim of the petitioner are primarily that the petitioner and his family is not living in a stage of penury and therefore the petitioner cannot be appointed on compassionate ground. The Bank has placed reliance on a scheme dated 1.1.1998. As per the said scheme while considering the claim of the petitioner on compassionate ground the aspects, which shall be considered are as follows: i. Family pension. ii. Gratuity amount received. iii. Employee's/employer's contribution to Provident fund. iv. Any compensation paid by the Bank or its welfare fund. v. Proceeds of LIC Policies and other investments of the deceased employee. vi. Income of family from other sources. vii. Income of other family members from employment or otherwise. viii. Size of the family and liabilities, if any.
(2.) BASED on that scheme, the Bank has calculated the terminal benefits which are liable to be given to the family of the deceased as Rs. 4.51 and the liabilities of the family has also been calculated which according to the Bank comes to Rs. 6.16 Lakh. In other words, it is an admitted case of the Bank that the liabilities of the family are much more than the terminal benefits, which the family has received. Apart from this, though Bank has also calculated certain investments done by the deceased, which is Rs. 0.99 lakh as NSC and Rs. 0.25 lakh as LIC, as such there is total investment of Rs. 1.24 lakh. While calculating the investment, liabilities as well as terminal benefits given to the family of the deceased employee the Bank has come to the conclusion that the family will also get pensionary benefit of Rs. 5809/- per month. Therefore according to the Bank, this family will not be in a state of penury and consequently the member of the family (i.e. present petitioner) cannot be considered for appointment on compassionate grounds. It must be stated that this Court has no quarrel with the scheme made by the Bank for making such appointments, nor can it be disputed that appointments on compassionate grounds are an exception to the rule. All the same, in view of this Court, the Bank has violated its own scheme, and has also failed to consider two vital aspects - (a) the deceased has left behind four members of the family which has already been stated above and (b) the deceased was the only bread-winner of the family. The scheme mandates that the Bank must consider all the aspects, while determining the state of the family. These factors as have been referred in Para 1 above, include factors such as (1) "income of family from other sources" as well as (2) "income of other family members from employment or otherwise" and (3) "size of family and liability, if any." The first two factors have not been considered at all, presumably as there is no "income" of family from these sources. As far as the third aspect is concerned there is a categorical finding of the Bank in favour of the family, which shall shortly be referred.
It is an admitted case of the Bank that liabilities of the family exceed its assets in the form of terminal benefits and investments. Moreover, there was also a finding of the Bank in its order dated 15.12.2000, which is as follows: "From the above assets and liabilities, it is observed that the family, instead of receiving any terminal benefits will not have enough surplus even to liquidate the different loans due to the Bank."
Therefore, it is a clear view of this Court that appointment on compassionate ground under the dying- in-harness was liable to be given to the petitioner and has been unjustly denied. The Bank though has relied upon a decision of Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of State Bank of India and others Vs. Jaspal Kaur reported in (2007) 9 SCC 571. In the said ruling the Hon'ble Apex Court had considered as to whether the scheme has been properly implemented or not and come to the conclusion that scheme has been implemented. In the present case though this Court is of a clear opinion that the Bank has violated its own scheme inasmuch as a person who was living in penury stage has not been considered for appointment on compassionate ground.
(3.) AS regards the terminal benefits being given to the family of the deceased employee is concerned, it is not given as a bounty to the family. It is their right. The Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Govind Prakash Verma Vs. Life Insurance Corporation of India and others reported in (2005) 10 SCC 289 has stated as follows" "6. In our view, it was wholly irrelevant for the departmental authorities and the learned Single Judge to take into consideration the amount which was being paid as family pension to the widow of the deceased (which amount, according to the appellant, has now been reduced to half) and other amounts paid on account of terminal benefits under the Rules. The scheme of compassionate appointment is over and above whatever is admissible to the legal representatives of the deceased employee as benefits of service which one gets on the death of the employee. Therefore, compassionate appointment cannot be refused on the ground that any member of the family received the amounts admissible under the Rules. So far as the question of gainful employment of the elder brother is concerned, we find that it had been given out that he has been engaged in cultivation. We hardly find that it could be considered as gainful employment if the family owns a piece of land and one of the members of the family cultivates the field. This statement is said to have been contradicted when it is said that the elder brother had stated that he works as a painter. This would not necessarily be a contradiction much less leading to the inference drawn that he was gainfully employed somewhere as a painter. He might be working in his filed and might casually be getting work as painter also. Nothing has been indicated in the enquiry report as to where he was employed as a regular painter. The other aspects, on which the officer was required to make enquiries, have been conveniently omitted and not a whisper is found in the report submitted by the officer. In the above circumstances, in our view, the orders passed by the High Court are not sustainable. The respondents have wrongly refused compassionate appointment to the appellant. The inference of gainful employment of the elder brother could not be acted upon. The terminal benefits received by the widow and the family pension could not be taken into account."
As such, the writ petition is allowed. A mandamus is issued to the respondents to forthwith give appointment to the petitioner on the post, which are available for such appointments, considering his qualifications. No order as to costs.;
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