I am handling Joginder Singh’s case. The entire legality of this case is based on one thing – can you make someone wait and thereafter say no? One cannot say no after 10 years. In India, there is an age criteria for every job. For example, if you are opting for a particular clerical for assistant’s position, then in some public sector undertakings they take people of age under 28. So, this narrows down the options for Singh.
Air India itself withdrew the policy of compassionate appointments and again re-introduced it in 2016. Then some financial package should have been given to the concerned family. Even if they are not giving a job, some kind compensation should have been given within a particular time limit. Also, the decision should have been taken within the time limit with the right to appeal. Again, the compensation cannot match the loss in time, but can only provide solace.
Moreover, RTI replies as per rules have to be given within a particular deadline. Air India has constantly violated the salutary provision by replying to one RTI in 3-4 months and deciding first appeals in six months. Also, if a member of the public is asking for an appointment with a public official, is it possible that you do not even reply to that? This is wrong.
Passage of time should not take away the essence of the right. Even if he gets the job now, he has lost the salary of the last 10 years. Had he been employed for the last 10 years, then the situation would have been different. Arrangements for his sister’s marriage could have been done in a much better way. The family’s financial status would have been much better.
What is the responsibility of the public sector undertaking? It subsidises or cross-subsidises the travel of government officers. What about the staff? No concern is being shown to the families of these employees.
It is a loss-bearing PSU, living on artificial life support, propelled and supported by Indian taxpayers for the sole benefit of public servants, political executives and legislators. Moreover, they are strategically denying rights — which includes Right to Livelihood — by turning a blind eye to the children of deceased employees.
Unilateral withdrawal of policy for compassionate appointment (started in 2008) was effective till 2016 — a case of administrative misadventure and not taking a stand on the pending pleas for compassionate appointment. It has shamed the compassion which an employer must have towards its employees.
To sum up, there is complete disharmony in compliance with the RTI Act, 2005 and abject behaviour of the management, as they are not even allowing access to the Managing Director. The policy of ‘no reply’ is ingrained deep into our parasitical governance system.
Mohit Kumar Gupta, an advocate, is handling Joginder’s case
— As told to Shruti Das