Courts Update Supreme Court dismisses plea of a man seeking appointment...

Supreme Court dismisses plea of a man seeking appointment in Central Coalfields in place of his deceased stepmother

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New Delhi Aug 24(ILNS): The Supreme Court has upheld the order of the High Court and dismissed the plea of a man seeking an appointment in Central Coalfields Limited on compassionate grounds in place of his deceased mother as he is not her biological son.  

A  two-judge bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy heard the plea of step-son Nageshwar Turi claiming the appointment under Social Security Measure in pursuant to National Coal Wage Agreement -VII on compassionate ground in place of his deceased mother who died in harness. 

The Bench was of the opinion that since Nageshwar was the illegitimate son of Lal Deo Turi (father of petitioner) seeking compassionate appointment through mother Late Baso Devi and there is no biological relationship with the woman who passed away dismissed the petition of Nageshwar Turi and affirmed the order of the Jharkhand High Court. Kaushik Lai, the advocate for the petitioner, put forward all his contentions before the Bench that was raised before the High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi.

The petitioner’s mother was an employee of Central Coalfields Limited and posted at Amlo Project. She died in harness in 2014. After her death, he sent a representation to vide letter dated 22.01.2015 to CCL authorities claiming appointment on compassionate ground in place of his deceased mother under the provisions of the National Coal Wage Agreement (in short ‘N.C.W.A.’) but the same got rejected in the year 2015.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the petitioner, “In Hindu Law, where do you get such right wherein a step-son can claim compassionate appointment?” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul further submitted to the petitioner that “if you are claiming through father, then it’s okay, but you are claiming through mother, with whom you have no biological relationship.”

Nageshwar Turi further claimed before the High Court of Jharkhand that he was granted a sum of Rs 9,70,586 against the death-cum-retiral benefits considering him as the son of a deceased employee and as such, there is no reason to deny the appointment on compassionate ground. He relied upon the provision of Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 as also Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

The Division Bench of High court while dismissing the Petition of Nageshwar Tuli had referred to section 20 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 depict maintenance and not for appointment on compassionate ground. “It is to be extended to the legitimate or illegitimate children by mother or father but herein the biological father of the writ petitioner, admittedly, has died but his mother is alive and since he is claiming appointment on account of the death of her step-mother namely late Baso Devi, being the son of late Baso Devi, he cannot claim any maintenance from late Baso Devi since she is not the mother of the writ petitioner rather she is step-mother of the writ petitioner and as such, the provision of Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, is not at all applicable,” noted the High Court. 

Respondent CCL (Central Coalfields Ltd.) contended that under the Provision of National Coal Wage Agreement, ‘step son’ was not referred to in the category of a dependant.

The stand taken by CCL was that there cannot be an application for Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 and Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, since getting an appointment on compassionate ground cannot be termed as a right to inherit the property rather the appointment under the National Coal Wage Agreement is to be provided in one or other candidates fulfill the condition contained in the National Coal Wage Agreement is only to be considered while considering the case of one or the other dependants of the deceased employee who has died in harness for providing appointment.

Clause 9.3.3 OF National Coal Wage Agreement -VII provides that the dependant for the purpose to provide appointment on account of the death of the employee in harness, would be provided to wife/husband, as the case may be, unmarried daughter, son and legally adopted son. If no such direct dependant is available for employment, brother, widowed daughter/widowed daughter-in-law, or son-in-law residing with the deceased and almost wholly dependant on the earnings of the deceased, may be considered to be the dependant of the deceased.

In case of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria Vrs. State of Gujarat and Anr., the issue for consideration therein is, as to whether an adoptive mother can be included in the expression of “mother”, wherein the difference in the mother and step-mother has been defined holding therein that there is an inherent distinction between the status of a ‘mother’ and ‘step-mother’ and they are two distinct and separate entities and both could not be assigned the same meaning. The expression ‘mother’ clearly means only the natural mother who has given birth to the child and not the one who is the wife of one’s father by another marriage./ILNS/KY/KR/SNG

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