Appointment of Heirs of the employees on their retirement/ superannuation is violative of Articles 14 and 15 of Constitution of India: Supreme Court

Appointment of Heirs of the employees on their retirement/ superannuation is violative of Articles 14 and 15 of Constitution of India: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of heirs of the employees on their retirement/ superannuation is violative of Articles 14 and 15 of Constitution of India.

Court Observation 

The division bench of Justice M. R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna noted that the Industrial Court has directed the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation to give appointment to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation/retirement as per judgment and award passed.

The court said that it was not open for the Industrial Court and/or even the High Court to direct the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation to provide appointment to the heirs of the employees on their retirement/superannuation, relying upon the judgment and award passed by the Industrial Court in Reference IT of 1979.

The court observed that after the conversion of the Municipal Council to Municipal Corporation/Mahanagar Palika, the employees of the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation shall be governed by the scheme framed by the State Government and at par with the government employees. 

Background 

In the year 2003, Ahmednagar Municipal Council was converted to Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika. At the time when the Municipal Council was in existence, an industrial dispute was raised by the Union being Reference IT of 1979. Demand was with respect to the employment to be given to the heirs of the employees. 

At the relevant time, it was agreed by the Municipal Council that the employees in Class-IV category (if they die before their retirement) in all departments, except Health Department, if they become invalid, or if they retire, their heirs will be given appointment in their place. 

Consequently, by judgment and award, the Industrial Court directed that the employees in Class-IV category, if they die before their retirement; if they become invalid, or if they retire, their heirs should be given appointment in their place. 

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay by which the High Court has dismissed the two writ petitions preferred by the appellant Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika, Ahmednagar and has confirmed the judgment and award passed by the Industrial Court in Complaints directing the Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika to provide compassionate appointment to the eligible heirs in accordance with the provisions of award of 1981 passed in Reference IT of 1979, the Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika has preferred the appeals.

Arguments 

Advocate Suhas Kadam, appearing on behalf of the appellant Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika contended that  the employees of the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation shall be entitled to the benefit of the scheme of appointment on compassionate grounds at par with the government employees. 

He submitted that both, the Industrial Court as well as the High Court have committed a grave error in directing the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation to give appointment to the heirs of the employees on their retirement and/or superannuation as per judgment and award passed in Reference IT of 1979, which was in the year 1981 at the time when the Municipal Council was in existence.

Advocate Iyer Shruti Gopal, appearing for the respondent, submitted that the parties are governed by the terms of the Bipartite Agreement resulting in judgment and award passed in Reference IT of 1979. 

She submitted that there is no question of any discretion and the heirs of the employees are entitled to the appointment on compassionate grounds on the superannuation and/or retirement of the concerned employees. 

Decision 

The court held that the employees of the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation shall be governed by the scheme of the State Government at par with the government employees, which does not provide for appointment on compassionate grounds to the heirs of the employees on their retirement and/or superannuation. 

The court stated that even otherwise, such an appointment to the heirs of the employees on their retirement and/or superannuation shall be contrary to the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds and is hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India.  

The court said that the compassionate appointment shall always be treated as an exception to the normal method of recruitment.

The court added that the appointment on compassionate grounds is not automatic and shall be subject to the strict scrutiny of various parameters including the financial position of the family, the economic dependence of the family upon the deceased employee and the avocation of the other members of the family.

The court further held that no one can claim to have a vested right for appointment on compassionate grounds. Therefore, appointment on compassionate grounds cannot be extended to the heirs of the employees on their superannuation and/or retirement.

The court quashed and set aside the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court as well as the judgment and award passed in Complaints directing the Mahanagar Palika/Municipal Corporation to appoint the heirs of the employees on their retirement/superannuation in terms of judgment and award passed in Reference IT of 1979.

Case title: Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika v/s Ahmednagar Mahanagar Palika Kamgar Union

Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5944 OF 2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment 

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