Karnataka HC: Law Should Recognize That There May Be Illegitimate Parents, but No Illegitimate Children

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The Karnataka High Court set aside an order which rejected an application for appointment on a compassionate basis and held that no child is born without a father and a mother; hence, there may be illegitimate parents, but no illegitimate children.

The Background

The appellant was born out of the second marriage of the deceased, during the subsistence of his first marriage. After his father’s death, the appellant made an application seeking his appointment on a compassionate basis under the Regulations titled Karnataka Electricity Board Employees’ Recruitment (Appointment on Compassionate Grounds) Regulations, 1997 (Hereinafter referred to as Regulations).

However, this application was rejected by the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (respondent) on the ground that he was the son of the second wife of the deceased person. Aggrieved by the rejection, the appellant filed a writ petition which was rejected. The revision petition was also dismissed. Consequently, he filed an appeal before the Karnataka High Court.

The Arguments

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The Counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that to Regulations 2 (1) (a) and 3 (2), the appellant was entitled to be appointed on a compassionate basis and that the fact that he was born out the second marriage of the decease cannot be used as a ground to reject his application.

It was submitted that the expression ‘son’ under Regulation 3 (2) refers to any male child and it is not restricted to a son born out of a valid marriage. It was stated that Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (Hereinafter referred to as the Act) confers legitimacy on the child born out of a void marriage.

Reliance was placed in the case of Union of India v. V.R. Tripathi (2019) in which the Supreme Court had held that

the restriction imposed on an illegitimate child in succeeding to ancestral properties cannot be construed as a restriction so as to prevent a son born out of a void marriage to claim appointment on A compassionate basis.”

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The Counsel appearing for the respondent submitted that the expression ‘family’ that is used in the Regulations refers to the deceased employee’s legally wedded spouse, sons and daughters; hence, a son born out of a second marriage would not be entitled to an appointment on a compassionate basis.

The Observations

The Court observed that the expression ‘family’ used in Regulation 2 (1) (b) cannot be restricted to a legally wedded spouse, sons and daughters, doing so would be in contravention of Section 16 of the Act and Articles 14, 15(1) and 16(1) of the Constitution of India.

The Court stated that “when Parliament has under Section 16 of the Act has treated both legitimate and illegitimate children on par; Regulation 2(1) (b) cannot restrict the scope of the expression family.

Additionally, the Court stated that law should recognize the fact that there may be illegitimate parents, but no illegitimate children as no child is born without a father and a mother.

The Decision

The Court allowed the appeal and directed the respondent to consider the application made by the appellant and the decision has to be rendered within a period of two months.

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