K’taka HC Rejects Woman’s Plea for Compassionate Job after Brother’s Demise

The Karnataka High Court recently rejected a woman’s request for a job on compassionate grounds following her brother’s demise, stating that a sister is not included in the definition of ‘family’ for her brother in this context.
A bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit, heard an appeal from Pallavi G M, a 29-year-old resident of Tumakuru.
“Courts through the process of interpretation cannot expand the contours of a statutory definition. When the rule maker in so many words has specified the persons as being the members of the family of an employee, we cannot add one to or delete one from the definition of family. An argument to the contrary, if accepted, would amount to rewriting the Rule, and therefore, cannot be countenanced,” the bench stated.
Pallavi had challenged the March 30, 2023, order of a single judge bench, which had rejected her petition for appointment on compassionate grounds. Her brother, employed in BESCOM, the State power transmission company, had passed away while in service.
Her counsel argued that she was financially dependent on her brother and, therefore, should be considered a member of his family and eligible for compassionate appointment.
BESCOM’s counsel contended that “compassionate appointment is an exception to the rule of equality in the matter of public employment. Therefore, the scheme providing for the same needs to be strictly construed. If so construed, the appellant, who is admittedly a sister of the deceased employee, is not entitled to any compassionate appointment.” The High Court agreed with BESCOM’s argument in its judgment and stated, “It has been a long-settled position of law that only a member of the family of the deceased employee alone can stake his/her claim for appointment on compassionate grounds, that too by producing material to vouch dependence on the employee who died in harness.”
According to the Companies Act 1956 and Companies Act 2013, which BESCOM follows, the High Court noted that “a sister does not figure in the definition.” The court also pointed out that there was no evidence to demonstrate that she was dependent on her brother at the time of his death.
Consequently, the appeal was dismissed, with the High Court stating, “The above apart, absolutely no material is placed on record by the appellant to show that she was dependent on the income of her brother at the time of his death in harness nor there is any material to assume that the family of the deceased is in financial distress as would justify the claim for appointment on compassionate grounds.”

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