The Supreme Court held, in a recent judgment, that children born out of a void marriage are legitimate children, and cannot be denied the benefits of compassionate appointment. The judgment was delivered by the bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah. The judges noted that “children do not choose their parents” thus to deny compassionate appointment to them on the basis of the void marriage of their parents is “deeply offensive”.
The decision is a result of an appeal which was filed by the Union of India in which the decision of the Bombay High Court was challenged wherein the father of the respondent was employed by the Central Railways in Mumbai and during the term of his service he contracted a second marriage. Upon the demise of his father, the respondent applied for compassionate appointment, which was rejected by the Central Railways Authorities. The respondent approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) against the rejection of his application and the Tribunal ruled in his favor. Central Railways filed a review petition as an appeal before the high court against the order of CAT which was dismissed. In the meanwhile, the Railway Board issued a circular stating that compassionate appointment cannot be granted to children born from the second marriage of a deceased employee. The High Court ruled that a child born in a second marriage is recognized as a legitimate child, found no merits in the petition and upheld the Tribunal’s decision. Aggrieved by the same, the Railway Authorities appealed before the apex court of the country.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi appeared for the Centre and argued that the rights of a child born in a second marriage were only with respect to inheritance and property, whereas the right to employment was not an inheritable right. While on the other hand, Advocates Arjun Singh Bhati and Apurv Parashar argued on behalf of the respondent that the Hindu Marriage Act recognizes the children born from null and void marriages as legitimate. It was also argued that as a policy decision, a spouse of a null and void marriage may be excluded, but a child recognized as legitimate by the law of the land, cannot.
The court pointed out that compassionate appointment is an entitlement and not a right. Further, the court ruled that law treats children born from the void marriage as legitimate children. The law extends all the rights and protections to such children and the State cannot go against the principles of Article 14 to exclude such children while devising a policy.
Tags : #Legitimate #Child #Void #Compassionate #Appointment #Supreme #Court