Take back mentally ill man, court to govt firm | india | Hindustan Times
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Take back mentally ill man, court to govt firm

Nine years after Goregaon resident Edward D’Cunha (38) was coerced into quitting by the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) — after being diagnosed with schizophrenia — the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the company to take him back with full back wages.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2010 01:26 IST
Urvi Mahajani

Nine years after Goregaon resident Edward D’Cunha (38) was coerced into quitting by the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) — after being diagnosed with schizophrenia — the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the company to take him back with full back wages.

Rapping the SCI and the Commissioner for Disabled for their attitude, the court has ordered the government undertaking to offer D’Cunha a suitable post in their onshore office within six weeks.

Quoting poet Rabindranath Tagore in their 40-page judgement, Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Amajd Sayed said: “The problem is not how to wipe out the differences, but how to unite with the differences intact.”

The SCI has to pay D’Cunha “all consequential benefits including arrears of salary, annual increment and promotion, etc.”.

The SCI had opposed D’Cunha’s petition, claiming that he had voluntarily resigned and hence was not entitled to any benefits. The SCI had also argued that it did not have a policy of offering onshore jobs to staff members hired to sail.

D’Cunha, who had joined SCI as trainee nautical officer in 1993, was admitted to nursing home in 1997 after a letter from the captain of the vessel on which he was on duty. The letter said he was “suffering from mental confusion for one month and his state was aggravating progressively and he had bouts of nausea.” He returned after six months of treatment, but between March 1998 and May 2000, he took leave again.

In June 2000, when he requested for a three-month leave, the captain of the ship he was posted on coerced him to resign, promising that he would be considered for an onshore job.

D’Cunha submitted a letter that said: “My request for shore job was turned down. I have no other alternative but to resign.”

He then lodged a complaint with the Commissioner of Disabled, but it was rejected. After this, in 2008, D’Cunha approached Bombay High Court.

D’Cunha’s father Stanley said he was happy that their patience and perseverance have paid off. “This is not for money. It is for ideology,” he told Hindustan Times.