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‘No compassion’ policy

In 2008, my father passed away due to a massive heart attack. He used to work for Air India as head helper in the airlines’ ground handling services. His salary was Rs 28,000 per month and he was the sole earning member of our family.

My mother and us five siblings — four brothers and one sister — were totally dependent on our father, who was 45 at the time of his death. He had served the airlines for more than two decades and was about to complete 25 years the year he died.

I work as a barber in a salon in Gurgaon. At the time of my father’s death, no one had a job – we were still students. This made things tough. We sent an application in 2008 to Air India asking for one of us to be given a job in the airline on compassionate grounds. At that time, we did not have much knowledge about the issue. They kept asking us to wait and were not ready to come to a decision. I visited the office many times. They would tell me, “We will inform you, currently the case is pending.”

Now, it has been almost a decade and even today they are keeping me in the dark. I was 19 when my father passed away and now I am 29. They have not given me a clear-cut answer — be it a yes or no. I filed RTIs thrice. But in that also they were delaying their responses. In the last reply, they mentioned such cases of compassionate appointments till 2007, and no mention was given to my case. All they are saying is that they will inform me once action is taken.

Also, they have not rejected my plea. Had it been rejected, then also I would have been happy that I have at least got an answer. The uncertainty would have been over. Initially we thought, ‘Okay this is government work, so of course it will take time’. But later, we realised we must take some step against such apathy. So, we sought a lawyer’s assistance and took the matter to court.

Joginder Singh works as a barber in Gurgaon.

— As told to Shruti Das

Fact Check

  • The erstwhile Air India merged with erstwhile Indian Airlines in the year 2007 and a new entity Air India Limited was formed. A complete ban imposed earlier on direct recruitment in non-operational categories continued.
  • Compassionate appointment policy came into force on January 1, 2016. This information was revealed in January 2018 in reply to the RTI filed by Joginder in March 2017.
  • FAQs released by the Department of Personnel & Training in respect of compassionate appointments had advised creating 5% quota for compassionate appointments against permanent positions, but Air India has informed that it has not created any such reservation.