Ramakanta Biswas

In a landmark verdict, the Orissa High Court ruled that marriage is not a disqualification and ordered appointment of a married woman under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme.

A single bench of Justice SK Panigrahi on Friday quashed the order of an inspector of schools rejecting application of one Basanti Nayak of Bhadrak who sought compassionate appointment after death of her father, a school teacher.   

Nayak who is married and has Plus II Arts qualification had applied for recruitment to Class-III Non-Teaching post under the Rehabilitation Assistance after her father died while working as a primary school teacher on February 23, 2001 leaving behind her mother and two daughters.  

Though the petitioner was recommended for appointment, her name finds place at 37th position in the merit list prepared by Inspector of Schools. The petitioner’s counsel claimed that lesser deserving candidates were appointed and her case was overlooked for appointment under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme.

The opposite parties submitted that in respect of daughters eligible for appointment under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme, it should be ensured that they are still unmarried as R.A. Scheme provides for extending employment to unmarried daughters. 

Moreover, it was also contended by Learned Counsel for the Opposite Parties that the Petitioner’s younger sister who is unmarried may apply for the requisite benefit under the R.A Scheme.

After hearing the arguments of both sides, the court said marriage by itself is not a disqualification and impugned policy of the State Government barring and prohibiting the consideration of the ‘married’ daughter from seeking appointment under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme.

The court said barring women from appointment merely on the ground of marriage is plainly arbitrary and violative of constitutional guarantees, as envisaged in Articles 14, 15, and 16(2) of the Constitution of India.

“As a consequence, thereof, refusal to grant benefit to the ‘married’ daughter for consideration of compassionate appointment is hereby declared void and inoperative. Hence, the order impugned passed by the authority in rejecting the petitioner’s case for compassionate appointment is hereby quashed,” the court said.  

“Accordingly, the opposite parties are directed to reconsider the claim of the petitioner for being appointed under Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme afresh in accordance with law keeping in mind the fact that her father died on 23.02.2001 and her application was rejected on 08.04.2008, after seven years,” it added.