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  • 7/21/2019 akku leela


    News Bulletin

    Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi

    Bulletin No. 5

    Web address: http://hrpfudupi.hpage.co.in

    Dear Readers,

    I believe not many of you would know the classic case of

    how the high-handedness of a few officials has affected

    the lives of two illiterate women in Udupi.

    The two women, Akku and Leela, have put in about four decades of service as scavengers at the

    Government Women Teachers Training Institute on a monthly salary of Rs. 15/-.

    When they joined the institute in 1971, they were told they would be paid a basic salary of Rs.15/-a month until the government officially approved their appointments and then they would receive

    their full pay backdated to the day they joined.

    Even after a year, they had still not had their jobs officially approved. They wanted to quit.

    The principal pleaded with them to stay and promised they would receive more than Rs. 30,000 as

    back wages and they would be appointed on a permanent basis. He warned them that they would

    lose this if they resigned. The women continued cleaning the lavatories.

    Their plight came to light after Dr. Ravindranath Shanbhag, President of Udupi-based Hu-

    man Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF), took up the matter and created public opinion against

    this injustice.

    In 1999 with the help of HRPF, the women approached the Karnataka Administrative Tri-bunal (KAT) seeking relief. As a result, the Education Department stopped paying them even that

    meager salary of Rs. 15/-.

    Now, after 14 years of legal battle, the women have three judgments including Karnataka

    High Court and the Supreme Court in their favor. Every court has asked the government to pay

    them their due right from 1971 till their retirement.

    Since the government has not paid their salary, the ladies have approached the Supreme

    Court with Contempt of Court Petition.

    Before you watch the story live on Spandana Channel at 8:00 pm on Thursday 8th Au-

    gust 2013, read the attached articles published so far.


    Nivedita, Editor, HRPF NEws Bulletin

    Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi.

    First Floor,

    Vaikunta Baliga College of Law,

    Kunjibettu Udupi- 576 102

    H R P F Bulletin5The Epic tale of Akku and Leela

  • 7/21/2019 akku leela


    News Bulletin

    Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi

    Bulletin No. 5

    Web address: http://hrpfudupi.hpage.co.in

    The judicial system and bureaucracyChief Justice of the Supreme Court of India K G Balakrishnan made a veryvalid point recently when he said that even as the courts of India hearing the largest

    number of cases in the world zealously guard the rights and liberties of the people,the arrears in cases were still on the rise. He did not mention figures but we have it

    from the Global Corruption Report 2007 on Corruption in Judicial Systems that asof February 2006 there were 33,635 cases pending in the Supreme Court with 26

    judges, 3.34 lakh cases in the High Courts with 670 judges and 2.5 lakh cases in

    13,304 subordinate courts.

    According to the report, the ratio of judges in India is 12 to 13 per million peo-ple compared to 107 in the United States, 75 in Canada and 51 in the United King-

    dom. At the current rate of disposal of cases, it would take 350 years to dispose ofpending cases. So what is the answer? It would seem that some high courts have in-

    troduced 'evening courts', 'mobile courts' and 'e-courts' to make justice accessible tothe remotest areas. As Justice Balakrishnan put it, 'it is imperative to introduce inno-

    vative and creative solutions to tackle' the current situation. What are these 'creative'solutions? If, for example, people belonging to the same caste have a Caste Court,

    can the caste chieftains or leaders serve to settle disputes among the litigants? Wouldthe legal system accept the rulings of Caste Courts as just and equitable? If reports

    are to be believed, such courts have sprung up in recent times and are rendering sig-nal service to the people. There is, e g Human Rights Protection Foundation of

    Udupi and the Consumer Forum of Basroor which have in the last 27 years tackled23,000 cases without charging a rupee, nor accepting any grant from either the Kar-

    nataka or Union government. These two bodies are examples of reducing the burdenon the judiciary. That apart, what is shocking is that many of the cases are trivial anddo not need legal expertise for their quick resolution. All that is required is ordinary

    common sense and a sense of fair play.A recent case involving a woman 'scavenger' working for a Government Train-

    ing School for Women in Karnataka makes it abundantly clear. This is the story. On21 November 1929 the headmistress of the Training School appointed a sweeper

    cum scavenger named Sesi on a monthly salary of six rupees. Sesi belonged to thelowest of low castes. Some time in 1971 Sesi died and her daughter Akku ap-

    proached the headmistress of the school for her mother's job. This was sanctioned on12 July 1971. The wages were raised to fifteen rupees.

    09 OCTOBER 2007Source:- News Today By M V KAMATH

  • 7/21/2019 akku leela


    News Bulletin

    Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi

    Bulletin No. 5

    Web address: http://hrpfudupi.hpage.co.in

    The approval appointment came six months after Akku joined duty but that doesn'tmatter. A letter of the headmistress addressed to the Commissioner of Public Instruc-

    tion, Bangalore, dated 19 September 1998 said that Akku and a fellow scavenger,

    Leela - also appointed in June 1971 - were full-time employees and full-time workwas extracted from them. Leela's work consisted of cleaning 7 urinals and 5 latrines

    seven days a week and Akku's work consisted of sweeping 21 classroom, also everyday of the year. Both the employees reportedly were supposed to fill in 'temporary

    posts' with their wages paid from 'contingency funds'. In a letter to the Secretary of

    the Department of Education, Karnataka, dated 4 November 1992 Akku mentioned

    that she had been working for the past 20 years in a 'temporary post' and appealedthat the post be made permanent. Unbelievable but true, Departmental inquiries took

    five long years to come to any conclusion! Eventually, on 9 July 1997, the Secretarywrote to say that the posts held by both Akku and Leela 'cannot be made permanent'

    - this after they had been working continuously for two decades! Time passed. Thena strange thing happened. While both Akku and Leela continued to work their wages

    were stopped as from 1 January 1998. Neither of the woman knew how to handle the

    situation until the matter was raised by a human rights organisation with the Com-

    missioner of Public Instruction (CPI) on 23 July 2003 when the headmistress of theschool requested the CPI to release wages due to the women amounting to Rs 1.16

    lakh. The women thereupon appealed to the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal(KAT) against the CPI which looked into the case and ordered regularisation of ser-

    vices of the two scavenger-sweepers as a 'social ameliorative measure', specifying

    that the order be obeyed within 90 days. CPI dithered. Akku thereupon made a rep-resentation to the Education Department on 27 November 2003 to get the KAT order

    implemented. Once again the government dithered and appealed to the KarnatakaHigh Court to dismiss the KAT order. On 4 October 2004 the High Court dismissed

    the CPI appeal. Thereafter, shocking as it sounds, notice was issued to government

    officers for not implementing the KAT order. At this point the government advocate,

    M B Prabhakar wrote to the head of the Legal Cell, Department of Education, Ban-galore, informing the latter that this was a 'fit case' to take to the Supreme Court. On

    10 November 2004, the Karnataka government authorised a Supreme Court advo-cate, Sanjay R Hegde to file a Special Leave Petition against the Karnataka High

    Court's final Order at the Supreme Court.Incidentally, it is now 2007 and the two women are still working without being

    paid! Something of a record. There are no legal intricacies here. Both the women

    have been and are full-time workers. And they have been working now for over

    three decades, cleaning latrines and sweeping classroom floors. And they have notbeen paid since 1998 or for nine long years. What sort of justice is this? If such in-

    justice can be done to two poor illiterate women, what justice can one expect in

  • 7/21/2019 akku leela


    News Bulletin

    Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi

    Bulletin No. 5

    Web address: http://hrpfudupi.hpage.co.in

    more complicated cases pending in the courts - some 2.5 crore in all? Does anyonecare? In the case of these two women, a local human rights organisation took up

    cudgels on their behalf but how many of the 2.5 crore cases can expect such help?

    Does it require a Supreme Court intervention to do justice to two unhappy illiteratewomen who have not been paid a single paise for nearly a decade? How are they ex-

    pected to live? There are no answers. Does Justice Balakrishnan have any? The truthis that our government departments are insensitive to human suffering. When a gov-

    ernment is pulled up, his (or her) instinctive rea