SC panel orders BMC to approve safai karamchari’s leave within a week

In Mumbai on PM's directive, members assail BMC brass in public hearing.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) on Monday asked Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to approve the study leave of safai karamchari Sunil Yadav within a week or face legal action under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The commission was in Mumbai following a letter from the Prime Minister's Office seeking intervention into Yadav's case, details of which were first reported by The Indian Express on February 9.

Yadav, a Class IV employee with the BMC, had sought permission for a study sabbatical to complete his Masters programme at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). BMC refused to reply to his series of applications. To an RTI reply, the civic body said that a "safai karamchari is not qualified to avail the leave" because what he will learn is not connected to his duties. This condition, however, does not find any mention in the BMC rule book.

At a public hearing conducted in the state's official guest house Sahyadri, NCSC vice-chairperson Raj Kumar Verka said, "No civic body can be above the constitution of this country. Just by quoting a rule book, they (BMC) cannot shirk responsibility. Permission has to be granted or our constitutional body (NCSC) would order for a legal action against the commissioner and other authorities under the atrocity act."

The Prime Minister had directed the commission to visit Mumbai, Verka said. "The PM was disheartened reading the story. We were immediately asked to go to Mumbai and take up the case."

Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani presented their case before commission members M Shivanna, Raju Parmar, Latha Priyakumar and Verka.

When Adtani and Kunte tried to defend themselves, Parmar said, "It is time that you own up to your mistake. It is shameful that even now the BMC wants to give excuses. Your office should have treated him like your role model, and here you are shamelessly punishing him."

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