New Delhi: Appointments in government offices on compassionate grounds cannot be claimed as a right and they are permissible only in genuine cases as per rules, else it would violate the Constitution, the Supreme Court has ruled.
"Appointment on compassionate grounds cannot be claimed as a matter of right. As a rule, public service appointments should be made strictly on the basis of open invitation of applications and merit.
"The appointment on compassionate ground is not another source of recruitment but merely an exception to the aforesaid requirement taking into consideration the fact of the death of the employee while in service leaving his family without any means of livelihood," the apex court said.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra gave the ruling while upholding the Union government`s appeal against an Allahabad High Court order to appoint Shashank Goswami on compassionate grounds.
The apex court said it is a settled legal proposition that the claim for appointment on compassionate ground is based on the premises that the applicant was dependent on the deceased employee.
"Strictly, such a claim cannot be upheld on the touchstone of Article 14 or 16 of the Constitution of India.
"However, such claim is considered as reasonable and permissible on the basis of sudden crisis occurring in the family of such employee who has served the State and dies while in service.
"In such cases the object is to enable the family to get over sudden financial crisis and not to confer a status on the family," said Justice Chauhan writing the judgement for the bench.
Article 14 guarantees equality before law, while 16 refers to the equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.