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Madras High Court: Male heirs excluded from mid-day meal scheme

Madras High Court: The Madras High Court has declared illegal a government order dated August 18, 2021 issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Women’s Rights excluding male heirs from compassionate appointments under the mid-day meal scheme. A bench of Justice D. Bharat Chakravarthy ruled that the ban violates Articles 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution. A petition was filed in the High Court by G Karthikeyan, whose mother, employed as a cook at Government Higher Secondary School, Keelaiyur, died while on duty. Her request for compassionate appointment was rejected, citing a government order reserving all posts in the mid-day meal programme for women. The court said that reserving posts for women in the mid-day meal scheme is acceptable, but denying compassionate appointment to male heirs is discriminatory. “The only point is that the impugned Government Order states that since all the posts are reserved for female candidates only, compassionate appointment cannot be considered in respect of male candidates. Such reasoning amounts to discrimination on the basis of sex,” the court said.

It highlighted that this not only affects the male children of female employees but it effectively puts female employees at par with their male counterparts. The court emphasised that the purpose of compassionate appointments is to assist families in financial difficulty and such appointments should not be denied merely because the heir of the deceased employee is male. “The fact that the employee has left only one legal male heir cannot deprive him of compassionate appointment,” the court said. The court therefore declared the Government Order dated August 18, 2021 as discriminatory and invalid. Additionally, the court ordered that the petitioner’s application be forwarded to the District Collector for consideration for other suitable posts in the General Fund.

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