Stepson, not being a valid and legal dependant, is not entitled to compassionate appointment under Clause 9.3.3 of the National Coal Wage Agreement-VII

Jharkhand High Court: A Single Judge bench comprising of Aparesh Kumar Singh, J. while dealing with a civil writ petition rejected the petitioner’s claim for compassionate appointment in place of his father’s legally married wife.

Facts of the case were that the petitioner’s father – Laldo Turi – had two wives, first one Baso Devi and the second being the petitioner’s biological mother Jagni Devi. Baso Devi died while working as Piece Rated Worker in one of the projects of the respondent. The petitioner claimed compassionate appointment in lieu of Baso Devi’s death which was rejected on the ground that he was not the natural son of deceased employee but her step son. Petitioner claimed that even as a son of the second wife, he was entitled to compassionate appointment since Baso Devi’s service excerpts mentioned him as her son, and also because a family certificate issued by the Circle Officer showed Jagni Devi as the co-wife of his father Laldeo Turi and him as their son.

The legal issue to be decided was as to whether the petitioner would be covered under the expression ‘son’ and/ or ‘legally adopted son’ under Clause 9.3.3 of Social Security chapter of National Coal Wage Agreement-VII (NCWA-VII), to seek compassionate appointment.

Clause 9.3.3 of NCWA- VII provides for employment to the dependent of a deceased employee dying in harness who fall in the category of wife/ husband/unmarried daughter/son/legally adopted son.

The Court noted that for the purposes of the said clause, a dependent would mean wife/ husband, unmarried daughter, son and legally adopted son. If no such direct dependent is available for employment, brother, widowed daughter/widowed daughter-in-law or son-in-law residing with the deceased and almost wholly dependent on the earnings of the deceased, may be considered to be the dependent of the deceased. It was noted that the categories of dependents included in the clause are those who have a valid and legal relationship with the employee.

Having regard to the aforesaid noting, the High Court observed that the petitioner was not a legally adopted son of the deceased employee Baso Devi. Moreover, the fact that the deceased employee is not his biological mother was revealed by him much later. Holding that the petitioner did not fall under any of the categories stated above, the writ petition was dismissed. [Nageshwar Turi v Central Coalfields Limited,2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 1207, Order dated 19-09-2018]

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