Jalna Municipal Council official’s decision to send a suspended clerk to represent him at a Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) hearing has proved costly.
The commission imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the chief officer of the council and ordered the collector to collect the fine and give it to the complainant. The MSHRC also asked the chief officer to appear before it.
A retired teacher from Jalna, Surekha Sane, who was allegedly denied retirement benefits, had filed a complaint with the MSHRC against the civic body on August 17, 2022. According to her complaint letter, Sane retired on February 28, 2022, as an assistant teacher.
The letter read, “I’m entitled to get retirement benefits as per the rules. Proposals are required to be submitted to the deputy director of the education department, Aurangabad, by the education officer, municipal council, Jalna for the distribution of service pension and other admissible allowances. However, the education officer deliberately avoided signing and sealing the proposal.
On July 26, 2022, an application was made in this regard after meeting with the principal. I was directed to send the file to the accounts branch for a legal opinion on my application from the accounts officer of the municipal council. However, the education officer has not taken any action to date and no proposal has been given. My family has been going hungry as I have not received my retirement dues for the past seven months. I suffer from heart disease and the education authorities are out to harass me. If there is any danger to my life, the city council office and education officer are fully responsible.”
After this, the complainant wrote another letter to the MSHRC to hold a hearing on an urgent basis. On the condition of anonymity, an MSHRC official said, “On August 27, 2022, we received the complaint and the commission took cognisance of it.” Chief Officer Santosh Khandekar appeared for the first hearing, held before the division bench of MSHRC Chairperson Justice KK Tated and member M A Sayeed and informed the commission that the complainant had not paid certain dues to the department due to which her pension was on hold. However, there is no such rule and the complainant had not been informed about it.
For the next hearing, on January 10, the chief officer sent a clerk Santosh Agnihotri on his behalf to argue the matter before the commission. During the hearing, the complainant informed the commission that the clerk had been suspended by the Jalna Nagar Parishad. Justice Tated then imposed the fine on the chief officer, directing him to forward all the relevant documents regarding the complainant’s pension to the office of the deputy director on or before February 18 and file an affidavit to that effect before the commission. The MSHRC has asked the collector to make sure that the fine paid by the officer is given to the complainant.