The Supreme Court has agreed to examine if a married woman can be given a government job on compassionate grounds if her father dies before retirement.
The issue was raised by the Uttar Pradesh government, which has challenged an Allahabad high court order directing it to appoint a married daughter of a constable in the fire department after his death.
The HC had declared unconstitutional a state rule that excludes a married daughter from the definition of family. The rule provides for appointment to a government job on compassionate grounds of the only spouse, unmarried daughter and son.
It is against the principles of equality enshrined in the constitution, the HC ruled.
The UP state counsel, RP Mehrotra, assailed the verdict before a bench headed by Justice SA Bobde — which stayed the implementation of the HC order. The top court has issued a notice to Neha Srivastava, who got relief from the HC in the case.
In its December 2015 order, the HC termed the rule as discriminatory, calling it regressive and an executive decision that amounted to gender injustice. The HC noted that Srivastava was the only adult amongst her five sisters, and the rest were ineligible for the post.
Mehrotra, however, said the HC had overstepped its jurisdiction as rule-making is the legislative’s prerogative. Compassionate appointment is not a regular source of appointment but an exception.
“The HC order enlarges the eligibility criterion for such appointments, which the SC has held cannot be made a parallel source of appointment,” Mehrotra told the bench.
Compassionate appointment under service rules was started with the objective to provide immediate succour to a family in grief. “But if the HC order is followed, the objective of the law will not be achieved,” Mehrotra said.
He also referred to a similar verdict of the Madras high court, which took an undertaking from the married daughter and her husband that she would look after her mother with the salary she received.
Mehrotra contended that the top court should also judge the validity of this order so that there is uniformity in the rules governing compassionate appointment.