A poor widow has won a legal battle seeking appointment on compassionate grounds at Chennai Port Trust (ChPT). The port also gave her Rs.one lakh as costs.

Closing a contempt petition filed by the woman, Justice K.K.Sasidharan observed that the State should wage a legal battle in deserving cases. The petitioner, S.Jayachitra’s husband, was working as a peon in the port. He died in November 2000, leaving behind his mother, wife and a minor daughter. She sought appointment on compassionate grounds.

However, without considering her application, Port Chairman Atulya Mishra and Secretary Harichandran appointed two other applicants in May 2005 without regard to seniority maintained for such appointments. The petitioner’s application was rejected in November 2010 on the ground that the port was not in a position to keep the application for compassionate appointment pending for more than three years from the date of the employee’s death. Ms.Jayachitra challenged this order.

In November last year, Mr.Justice Sasidharan directed the authorities to appoint her within two months. A Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the port’s appeal. As the order was not complied with, the petitioner filed the present contempt petition. The Supreme Court dismissed the port’s SLP in October this year and imposed costs of Rs.one lakh to be paid to Ms.Jayachitra.

Her hardship did not end there. Though the Supreme Court directed the port to fix the pay scale prevailing in 2005, the port trust issued the appointment order without giving the applicable scale.

Finally, on November 11, the ChPT produced an appointment order as per the Supreme Court order. As directed, a cheque for Rs.one lakh towards costs was handed over to the petitioner’s counsel. The court was also informed that the petitioner had joined duty.

Mr.Justice Sasidharan said he was closing the contempt petition with a sense of satisfaction that the petitioner was able to enjoy in her lifetime the fruits of the litigation initiated by her.

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