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Tamil Nadu: Judge’s memo to Dalit assistant for ‘failure to wash inner wear ‘

CHENNAI(PTI): A judge of a lower court in Erode served a memo to his office assistant, a Dalit woman, for failing to wash undergarments at the his house and for retorting to his wife in an arrogant tone, reports The Indian Express. The memo was submitted a month ago and signed by subordinate judge D Selvam of Sathyamangalam court.

The memo dated February 1, 2016 states, “Please explain within 7 days why disciplinary action should not be initiated against you for your failure to wash the inner wear which were put for washing in the Sub-Judge’s house, and for throwing them away disgustingly, and when your attitude was questioned by the officer and his wife for retorting in an arrogant tone.”

The assistant replied to the memo on February 4 saying, “My humble explanation for the memo dated February 1, 2016, I humbly submit that I will guard against any lapses in the future and undertake to do my duties properly. I request that the disciplinary action against me may please be closed.”

The judicial employees association has said that it has verified the incident. T Senthil Kumar, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Judicial Employees Association, said that the body will file a petition before the registrar general of Madras High Court and Justice S Nagamuthu, the High Court judge who heads administrative affairs of judicial employees in the state.

The judge, D Selvam has refused to respond on whether it was legal to use an office assistant for menial jobs at his home.

The IE report says that though Vasanthy refused to comment due to the ‘vulnerable condition’, sources said that she continued to do menial house work such as washing, cleaning and cooking. “Ever since the judge took charge here last May, she has been posted at his home along with one more staff. They work there till 7.00 pm. That day (February 1), the judge’s wife asked her to wash her inner clothes, she refused. The same afternoon, she was served the memo,” said sources.

Vasanthy who lives in Gobichettipalayam which 27 kms away from the judge’s house is the sole earning member of her family as her husband is unwell. Both her daughters are students.

Instances of official assistants being taken to task for refusing to do menial job has been reported in the past.

J Cristal Babitha, a judicial magistrate at Valliyoor court near Tirunelveli s suspended her office assistant for failing to cook fish curry. An office asistant in Kanyakumari filed a plea against his suspension for leaving without taking permission from the judge’s wife to buy medicines for stomach ache.

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