Free Press Journal

Petitioner wants Bombay High Court to declare her as father’s legal heir


Bombay High Court

Mumbai: A 23-year-old woman from the city has approached the Bombay High Court with a contention that she, and not her stepmother, be declared the legal heir of her deceased father, so that she can get a job on compassionate grounds at her father’s place of work.

Harsha Kale alleged that the marriage between her father and her stepmother was not in accordance with law.

At the time of the marriage, Kale claimed her stepmother was yet to get a divorce from her first husband.

Kale also claimed that such marriage thus will be considered null and void and her stepmother must be disentitled from claiming any right over her father’s assets, and availing of benefits such as receiving her father’s pension, or securing a job on compassionate grounds.

A bench of justices Shantanu Kemkar and Rajesh Ketkar today directed the Union government to clarify its stand on who is entitled to get a job on compassionate grounds at the government institute where the deceased used to work.

In the meanwhile, the bench has also directed the Union government to consider Kale’s interim prayer seeking that she should not be evicted from the government quarter allotted to her father during his service, since she and her two younger siblings have no alternate place of residence.

The bench, however, clarified that such direction to the Union government to consider Kale’s interim prayer “did not create any rights” in her favour.

According to Kale’s plea filed through her counsel Madhav Thorat, her father was employed at an institute of speech and learning disabilities in the city that comes under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

“After Kale’s mother passed away, her father got married for a second time. When he died in 2015, Kale’s stepmother began receiving the deceased’s pension and related benefits. Her stepmother also claimed a right to getting a government job under the Ministry on compassionate grounds,” Thorat told the court.

However, soon after, Kale got to know that her stepmother had failed to get legally divorced from her first husband before getting married to the petitioner’s father, he added.

Kale then wrote to the institute and to the government claiming that since her father’s second marriage was null and void by law, she should get that job on compassionate grounds.

“The authorities however, are yet to sort the issue out. In the meanwhile, she was asked to vacate the government quarter allotted to her father. While her stepmother now lives in Pune, the petitioner (Kale) lives in the government quarter with her two younger siblings and her ailing grandmother. With her parents dead, and without a job, she has nowhere else to go,” Thorat said.

The high court has now directed the government to consider Kale’s plea and to inform the court of its stand on the issue by December 22.