• The Supreme Court rejected some applications for ‘compassionate appointment’ that were filed by the dependents of deceased government employees in West Bengal.
  • The concept of compassionate appointments can be traced to the Indian Constitution’s Article 39, which is under the Directive Principles of State Policy, and talks about the right to livelihood.
  • It aims to provide employment on compassionate grounds to the dependent family members of a government servant who dies in harness or retires on medical grounds, leaving the family without any source of sustenance.

Factors for consideration:

  1. financial condition of the family,
  2. the presence of earning members,
  3. family size,
  4. children’s ages,
  5. the essential needs of the family.


Compassionate appointments can extend to dependent family members of a government servant who:

  1. Dies while in service (including death by suicide)
  2. Retired on medical grounds before 55 years of age (57 years for erstwhile Group ‘D’ Government servants);
  3. The measure can also extend to the family members of an Armed Forces employee who:
  4. Dies during service;
  5. Is killed in action; or
  6. Is medically boarded out and is unfit for civil employment.

The government servant must have been appointed on a regular basis and not on a daily wage, casual, apprentice, ad-hoc, contract, or reemployment basis.

Competent Authority:

  • Compassionate appointments are made by either the Joint Secretary in charge of administration in the Ministry or Department concerned or the Head of the Department in the case of attached and subordinate offices.
  • They can also be made by the Secretary of a Ministry or Department in special cases.
  • The Court also referred to a slew of its rulings from 1989 and 1994 in ‘Sushma Gosain vs. Union of India’ and ‘Umesh Kumar Nagpal vs. State of Haryana’ respectively, to say that
  • there shouldn’t be any delay in compassionate appointments and the same should be “provided immediately to redeem the family in distress”, provided that
  • the government or public authority examines the financial condition of the deceased’s family and is satisfied that “but for the provision of employment, the family will not be able to meet the crisis


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