2003(3) ALL MR 396
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY(NAGPUR BENCH)

A.P. SHAH AND R.K. BATTA, JJ.

Smt. Chandrakant Ganpat Raje Vs. The Chairman, Mah. State Elec. Board & Ors.

Writ Petition No.1248 of 2001

11th June, 2003

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. V. G. WANKHEDE , P. P. PURI
Respondent Counsel: Mr. R. K. DESHPANDE, S. P. BHANDARKAR

Maharashtra State Electricity Board Employees Seniority Regulations (1961), Reg.4 - Counting of length of service - Appointment on compassionate ground - Deceased employee working as NMR right from 1973 - Appointed as helper on temporary basis by order dt.5-9-1988 and assumed charge on 26-9-1988 - He expired on 19-9-91 - His wife appointed as peon under C.S.28 on compassionate grounds - Held, applying Reg.4 the deceased employee must be deemed to have been in service for more than three years and as such his wife was eligible for compassionate appointment. (Para 6)

JUDGMENT

A. P. SHAH, J.:- Rule. Respondents waive service. By consent, Rule is made returnable forthwith.

2. The petitioner was appointed in the service of respondent Maharashtra State Electricity Board (Board for short) vide order dated 27-11-1997 as a Peon. The appointment of the petitioner was under C.S.28, which is a scheme for employment on compassionate ground to the dependents to the deceased employees. The petitioner was, however, abruptly discontinued from service with effect from 20-5-1998. The legality and propriety of this action is questioned in this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

3. The petitioner's late husband Shri.G.G. Raje was working as NMR in the services of the Board right from the year 1973. Upon his selection by the competent selection committee, he was appointed as superannuary line helper on a temporary basis vide order dated 5-9-1988. Shri.G.G. Raje expired due to illness on 19-9-1991. After his death the petitioner applied for her appointment on compassionate basis. Her application was accepted by the Board and she came to be appointed as a Peon. Subsequently, however, her appointment came to be terminated on the ground that her husband had not completed 3 years regular service and as such she was not eligible for appointment on compassionate ground.

4. On behalf of the respondents counter affidavit has been filed. It is inter alia contended that under C.S.28 dated 16-4-1975 dependants of employees who were working on regular basis and who expired while in service of the Board or retired prematurely on medical grounds are eligible for appointment on compassionate ground. The Scheme also covers the cases of the dependents of the Board's temporary employees, who on their due selection by the competent selection panel have put in three or more years of service against temporary or regular post and who expired while in service or retired prematurely on medical grounds. It is urged that the deceased husband of the petitioner joined the service of the Board on 26-9-1988 in temporary capacity and died on 19-9-1991. Thus he has completed only 2 years, 11 months and 24 days of service. When the matter was referred to the head office of the Board vide communication dated 31-8-1995 it was communicated that the deceased had not completed 3 years or more service in the employment of the Board and therefore the petitioner was ineligible for getting employment on compassionate grounds under C.S.28. In view of this communication the petitioner's services were terminated with effect from 20-5-1998.

5. The only question that falls for our consideration is whether the petitioner was ineligible for appointment on compassionate ground under C.S.28. In the present case the petitioner's deceased husband was working with the Board right from the year 1973. However, he was selected on temporary basis by order dated 5-9-1988. He expired on 19-1-1991. If we calculate the period of his service from the date of the order of appointment he had completed 3 years of service. However, in the instant case he had assumed charge on 26-9-1988 and therefore it is contended by the Board that he had not completed 3 years service.

6. The learned counsel for the petitioner drew our attention to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board Employees Seniority Regulations, 1961. Regulation 4 of the said Regulations reads thus:

"4. For purposes of fixing seniority, length of service shall be counted from the date of the order of appointment or of promotion and not the date of joining the post."

It is thus clear that for the purpose of computing seniority the date of appointment is relevant date and the seniority is to be counted from that date. Therefore the length of service is to be counted from the date of order of appointment and not the date of joining service. Under C.S.28 there is nothing to indicate how the length of service of an employee should be calculated for the purpose of deciding the eligibility for employment on compassionate ground. In the absence of any specific rule or regulation in this behalf we can safely rely upon regulation 4 of the 1961 Rules, for the purpose of ascertaining the length of service and regulation 4 says that the length of service shall be determined from the date of appointment order and consequently the deceased husband of the petitioner must be deemed to have completed 3 years in the employment of the Board before his death. In the circumstances we are of the opinion that the Board was not right in holding that the petitioner was ineligible for compassionate appointment. We therefore direct the respondents to reinstate the petitioner in service and regularize her service forthwith.

Rule is made absolute in terms of above order with no order as to costs.

Petition allowed.