"If marriage is not a bar in the case of a son, the same yardstick shall be applied in the case of daughter also" says judge

The Madras High Court Bench here has held as illegal and arbitrary, the government’s decision to provide employment on compassionate grounds to married sons but not married daughters of government servants who die during the course of service.

Justice D. Hariparanthaman ruled that married daughters alone could not be excluded from compassionate employment scheme especially when the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 imposes an equal duty on both sons and daughters to take care of their parents.

Allowing a writ petition filed by the eldest of three married daughters of a Village Assistant who died in August 2010, the judge directed the Revenue Secretary as well as the Tuticorin Collector to consider her plea for compassionate employment without any reference to her marital status. “If marriage is not a bar in the case of a son, the same yardstick shall be applied in the case of daughter also,” he said.

The judge held that a Government Order issued on August 3, 1977 denying the benefit to married daughters was against Articles 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex) and 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of the Constitution. He pointed out that the illegality in the 1977 G.O. was cured to some extent in a subsequent G.O. issued on August 30, 2010 which stated that married daughters were also eligible to seek compassionate employment provided that they had made the application before their marriage was solemnised.

Not in agreement with such concessions given in part, the judge held that alike sons, daughters too were equally entitled to claim compassionate employment even if they were married on the date of the death of their parents or on the date of making applications.

Stating that taking care of a family left in lurch due to the death of a government servant was the only condition for granting compassionate employment, the judge said that married daughters too could claim the benefit if they give a written undertaking to safeguard the interests of the family.

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