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Meghnad Mondal v/s The State of West Bengal

    C.A.N. No. 11169 of 2017 in M.A.T. No. 2013 of 2017

    Decided On, 17 January 2018

    At, High Court of Judicature at Calcutta


    For the Appellant: Debabrata Saha Roy, Indranath Mitra, Pingal Bhattacharyya, Subhankar Das, Advocates. For the Respondent: Susovan Sengupta, Manas Kumar Sadhu, Advocates.

Judgment Text

1. By the earlier order dated 3rd January, 2018, this Bench called for an affidavit from the relevant department to bring on record the departmental notes based whereon ultimately the application of the respondent no. 1/writ petitioner for compassionate appointment as a fair price shop dealer was rejected. An affidavit has been filed on behalf of the respondent no. 4 annexing thereto such departmental notes. The affidavit shall be retained with the records.

2. We find from the departmental notes that the Sub-Divisional Controller, Food and Supply Department, Katwa

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, the District Controller, Burdwan and the Director of District Distribution, Procurement and Supply, West Bengal had recommended the appointment of the appellant on compassionate ground but the Commissioner, Food and Supply (hereafter the commissioner) proceeded to observe in his note dated 25th August, 2015 as follows:-

"Not a fit case for compassionate appointment as the applicant has changed his profession solely with the purpose to obtain licence."

3. The appellant's father, a fair price shop dealer, passed away on 29th April, 2014. Within two months thereof, the appellant filed an application for compassionate appointment in the prescribed form, i.e. Form A vide paragraph 19(ii) of the West Bengal Public Distribution System (Maintenance & Control) Order, 2003. The form did not require the petitioner to indicate his occupation. Upon receipt of such application, the Sub-Divisional Controller, by his memo dated 3rd February, 2014, requested the appellant to produce before him a certificate of the Pradhan of the relevant Gram Panchayat as well as the sketch map of the proposed place of business. The documents were required to be submitted by 10th February, 2014. The request was complied with by the appellant. However, the appellant claims that subsequently he was given instructions on telephone to submit further documents. Such documents, inter alia, included a fresh application to be filed by the appellant in 'Form-C' vide paragraph 20(iii),20(vi) of the W.B.P.D.S. (M&C) Order, 2013.

4. Form 'C' required the appellant to disclose his 'present profession'. The writ petitioner wrote 'business' against the relevant item of query.

5. Although the application in Form-'C' is duly signed but the application is undated and it was made part of the enclosures to a letter dated 8th July, 2014, which the appellant had submitted on the basis of the telephonic instruction referred to above.

6. It is contended by Mr. Saha Roy, learned advocate for the appellant that he had started a business for the purpose of survival of himself as well as his family members since the earlier application for compassionate appointment had been disposed of one way or the other. It is also contended by him that the appellant has since discontinued the business.

7. Our attention was next drawn to an affidavit of the appellant affirmed on 11th July, 2004 wherein he described himself to be an unemployed youth. According to Mr. Saha Roy, the commissioner may have looked into the same and by observing that the appellant had changed his profession for the purpose of obtaining an appointment on compassionate ground, acted illegally and in a high handed manner. Drawing our attention to page '21' of the affidavit filed today, he showed that a further inquiry that had followed to ascertain the occupation of the appellant revealed that his stand that he was unemployed, is correct. It is also submitted by him that no opportunity was given to the appellant to explain his position as well as the circumstances which compelled him to run a business for some time and thereafter discontinue it. A prayer has accordingly been made for setting aside the order of the commissioner and for a direction on the department to issue licence.

8. Mr. Sengupta, learned advocate appearing for the State has taken a fair stand. According to him, no reason having been assigned by the commissioner, the matter may be re-visited.

9. We accept the stand of Mr. Sengupta. We are of the view that in view of the additional evidence that has been placed before us, which was placed before the learned Judge, interest of justice demands setting aside of the order dated 25th August, 2015 of the commissioner as well as the order under challenge in this appeal dated 7th December, 2017. We order accordingly.

10. The commissioner is directed to reconsider the application of the appellant for appointment on compassionate ground upon granting an opportunity of hearing to him. The commissioner shall give due regard to all the relevant documents including those annexed to the affidavit filed today and take a decision uninfluenced by the earlier decision dated 25th August, 2015. It is made clear that the commissioner shall look into any document unless the appellant has been given access thereto.

11. If the commissioner is once again of the view that the application does deserve to be allowed, a reasoned order shall be passed and communicated to the appellant. On the contrary, if the appellant is found deserving for an appointment on compassionate ground, the commissioner shall proceed in accordance with law without undue delay.

12. The entire exercise shall be completed by the appellant as well as the commissioner as expeditiously as possible but later than six weeks from date of receipt of a copy of this order.

13. The appeal as well as the connected application stands disposed of.

14. There shall be no order for costs.

15. Urgent photostat certified copy of this order, if applied for, be supplied expeditiously after complying with all necessary legal formalities.