The Air Force has submitted a reply before the Chandigarh bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) saying sanitation workers couldn’t be equated with other employees in Multi-Tasking Staff (MTS), unlike other departments as they have to clean latrines and drains in units or stations and no other person would be switched easily to do this.
Sanitation worker Prikshit Kisana, who has been working with 3 Base Repair Depot (BRD), Chandigarh, for the past 14 years, has approached the CAT against the “discriminatory” policy of 2012 of the Air Force over forming the MTS, which included erstwhile group D trades like watchman, head watchman, lascar, anti-malaria lascar, gardener and junior gestetner operator, while excluding sanitation workers, barbers and washermen. He told the court that it showed the attitude of “untouchability” against them.
Employees in the MTS can be switched from one task to another.
The Air Force says, “The trade of safaiwala (sanitation worker) in the IAF has not been included in the MTS category because the prescribed duties of safaiwalas are ordinarily not performed by any other posts of erstwhile Group D staff. Therefore, keeping in view the criteria of ease in switching of duties, it was decided to keep the post of safaiwalas separate.”
It has categorically said that the other employees couldn’t be easily switched to work as sanitation workers, which is why safaiwalas are kept separate.
The Air Force has admitted in their reply that though the department of personnel and training (DoPT) and some other departments have included the post of safaiwalas in the re-designated post of MTS, in IAF they have deliberately been kept separate because the duties performed by safaiwalas in units/stations are distinct from those employed in secretariat offices, “as it involves duties like cleaning of latrines, drains, etc”.
Kisana has submitted a rejoinder through his advocate Roopak Bansal, saying the Air Force’s reply shows the attitude that a person employed as a safaiwala should remain as a safaiwala and he cannot be allowed any other job.
“The nature of job of a safaiwala is abhorred by the respondent authorities (Air Force) and treated as a polluted one and a menial job and the reply filed shows the insensitiveness of the respondents (Air Force),” he added.
The next date of hearing in the case is March 31.