Study leave for safai karamchari: Panel files case, summons officials

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has suo motu registered a case against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) after The India Express on February 9 reported that Sunil Yadav, 31, was denied sabbatical to complete his Masters at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

It was only through RTI that Yadav got to know the reason for the delay. A "safai karamchari is not qualified to avail the leave", as what he will learn is not connected to his duties, the RTI reply told him, a stipulation incidentally missing from the BMC rule book.

Vice-Chairman of the commission Raj Kumar Verka said the summons were issued to the Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and other civic authorities. "It is sickening to see one of the prime civic bodies harbour such castiest mentality. The new report compelled us to intervene," said Verka who is in Mumbai for a hearing on the issue. "We have summoned them to Sahayadri guest house at 11 am tomorrow," he said.

He said a letter has been sent to the PMO and the state Chief Minister's office to inform them about the incident. "Who is the BMC to make any law which is not in sync with the Constitution? We need to find out now from the BMC why Yadav has been denied his right and how many more such Class IV employees have been denied their right," he said.

Kunte and Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani, under whom Yadav works, refused to reply to calls and text messages.

With already two Masters degree and a diploma, Yadav managed to get enrolled into two-year TISS Masters programme in globalisation and labour in his third attempt. Despite being denied leave, Yadav attended classes in the morning and worked at night.

"I have waited for nine months and have knocked at every doorstep to get my application noticed. Not once did the officials feel the need to revert. I am only hopeful that the NCSC intervention will bring an end to this discrimination. Like me, there are many who hope this caste-based profession of conservancy will be done away with," he said. Yadav was also shortlisted for a student exchange programme at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg. But it could be processed only after BMC allows him to travel to South Africa and to continue with his education.

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