8-yr delay in giving job to Samjhauta Express blast victim's son: HC slaps 1L cost on Railways
New Delhi: Observing that public functionaries should not make "hollow promises" as they would be bound "morally, ethically and legally" by such announcements, Delhi High Court has slapped a cost of Rs one lakh on Railways for the eight-year delay in giving a job to the son of a victim of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing.
Then Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, apart from offering Rs 10 lakh compensation to the kin of people who died in the blast, had also said that one member of each affected family would also be given a job in the Railways, the court noted.
A bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and I S Mehta directed Railways to "provide employment to the petitioner (Faryaz) as fresh face substitute in the pay band-1 with grade pay of Rs 1,800 within a period of one month" from May 28, the date of order.
It also directed the ministry to pay within four weeks the amount of Rs one lakh to Faryaz, whose mother Shakina Begum was one of the 68 people who died in the blast on Delhi-Attari Express (link train of Samjhauta Express) on February 18, 2007.
Issuing the direction, the court said,"In our view, when such announcements are made by the government or by any highest authority competent to make such announcements, then they cannot be empty or hollow announcements made just for momentary satisfaction of the public, particularly the victims of such mishaps."
It also said that these promises are the "silver lining" for such families and "cannot remain unfulfilled", as otherwise people will lose faith in the authorities.
"The public office holders cannot use these promises in times of distress as a tool for salvaging public outcry and political turmoil," it said.
The bench was also of the view that when such promises are made those who make them "should be cautious about its feasibility and foresee any circumstances that would be an impediment to its potential practical implementation".
The court observed that instances of train bombings and accidents are very distressing for those who lose their loved ones in such incidents, but when public functionaries "turn their back" on such promises, it is "agonizing and appalling, adding insult to injury".
"Such a somersault on promises gives an impression to the already distraught people that those were mere empty promises made at the spur of the moment and were never meant to be kept. In this regard, it is for the respondents (Centre) to frame rules to meet such situations," it said.
It also rejected as "untenable" the Railways contention that a job as fresh face substitute under compassionate grounds could not be given to Faryaz as he had a wife and four kids and was not dependent on his mother, saying "we do not know as to how this theory of dependency has been introduced".
"The announcement made by the then Railway Minister nowhere suggested they would give employment to a dependent member of the victim satisfying the norms laid down for compassionate appointment but the announcement merely stated that the employment will be given to one of the family members of each Indian killed in the blast," it said.
"Moreover, no well placed person would come forward to seek an appointment in group 'D' post until and unless he is compelled by the circumstances," it also said.
The court in its 15-page judgement went on to observe that high public functionaries should not make hollow promises "rather they should effectively monitor and ensure implementation of the announcements made by them and handle all such sensitive situations without any bias." As existing on this date, we find no reason to deny the relief to the petitioner (Faryaz) who was given an assurance by none else than the highest functionary i.e. the Railway Minister and to deny the said right to him would be a great injustice and also against our ethics and moralities," it said.
The court also set aside a November 11, 2014, order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which had rejected Faryaz plea against denial of employment to him by Railways on the ground that he was not a dependent of his mother.