Bombay High Court Fines ₹25K To Girls' School For Denying Compassionate Appointment To Male Applicant

Bombay High Court Fines ₹25K To Girls' School For Denying Compassionate Appointment To Male Applicant

The court also held that a minority institution receiving aid from the state government cannot deny compassionate appointment to an applicant who is otherwise eligible as per the state government's scheme.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, February 24, 2024, 07:52 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court recently imposed a cost of Rs25,000 on an educational institution, which runs an only  girls’ school, for denying a compassionate appointment to a man on the ground that the school has adopted a policy not to hire male peons. 

Court's observations

"We are sensitive to the fact that the said respondent is running a school, mainly for the girls, however the said act of the respondent of managing the School for the girls by itself will not give it privileges to deny employment by adopting the gender-bias approach…” said a bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and Abhay Mantri. 

“.. the stand taken by the respondent Nos.3 and 4 (school and the society managing it) that they are not granting compassionate appointment to a male member, in our opinion, also can be said to be in violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India”, the bench added.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by one Rahul Meshram, seeking direction to the Amravati's Holy Cross Convent English High School to grant him compassionate appointment. 

Details of petition and background of case

The court also held that a minority institution receiving aid from the state government cannot deny compassionate appointment to an applicant who is otherwise eligible as per the state government's scheme.

Meshram’s father, Dhondiram, served as peon at the school from September 1, 1986, till his passing on August 10, 2012. Despite Meshram repeated requests to the school since 2013, the authorities did not grant him a compassionate appointment. Hence, he approached the HC alleging bias and arbitrary behaviour, citing the appointment of another similarly situated individual in October 2016. 

His Advocate PA Kadu pointed out that Meshram’s father's appointment was approved by the government and his salary drawn from public funds.

However, Advocate S Zia Quazi for the school and its management contended that the School has adopted a policy not to appoint a male person as a Peon as it is a girls school. He cited constitutional privileges under Article 30 for Minority Institutions, arguing that the government cannot compel the school to appoint the petitioner. 

State’s advocate AM Ghogare said that Meshram’s appointment wouldn't disrupt school administration or educational standards.

Court imposes fine

The HC said that the delay in considering Meshram’s claim was unjust, especially considering his claim predates those of others who were granted appointments. The court also took into account that the school received a grant from the government, making it a public employment. Therefore, its gender bias approach is violative of Article 16 of the Constitution, the court held.

The court has imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 and directed the respondents to pay the same to the Legal Services Authority at District Court, Amravati. 

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