February 18, 2014 1:15:30 am
The Bombay High Court Monday granted protection from arrest till February 20 to Dr T P Lahane, dean of the state-run J J Hospital, who has been accused of passing casteist remarks against a temporary sweeper in the hospital. The HC directed Lahane to approach the sessions court for anticipatory bail.
“The applicant is protected till 5 pm on February 20 from arrest. The sessions court shall hear the matter on merits,” said the court, which was hearing the anticipatory bail application filed by Lahane.
Lahane’s counsel Ashok Mundargi argued that his client did not know the name of the complainant and so he could not have called him “bhangi” as alleged by the sweeper.
The J J Marg police had on Friday booked Lahane for criminal intimidation under the IPC and sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for intentionally insulting or intimidating with the intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste (SC) or a Scheduled Tribe(ST) in a public place.
The complaint was filed by Naresh Waghela, who alleged Lahane had called him “bhangi” in the presence of several other employees.
Lahane also filed a separate petition seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against him, arguing it was filed as an afterthought.
According to Lahane’s petition, there were two groups of sweepers, one led by Waghela and the other by Bharat Solanki. Solanki was appointed as Mukadam (supervisor), as a result of which Waghela was aggrieved. Waghela had asked Lahane to remove Solanki from the supervisor’s post, but the dean did not oblige.
“The entire complaint is in bad taste and only made with a view to vent grudges against the applicant (Lahane) and tarnish his image,” his petition stated.
Lahane, a Padmashri recipient, also said, “The applicant himself belongs to the nomadic tribe (member of Vanjhari Samaj) and hence, using such words or committing the act of intentionally insulting them can never be committed by the applicant.”
The incident allegedly took place on February 14 when Waghela, along with few other temporary workers, met Lahane to have a discussion about getting permanent posts in the hospitals. For the last 20 years, 700-odd workers have been employed with the four state-run hospitals on temporary posts, which means a lower pay scale for them.
“Considering the voluminous amount of work in government hospitals and the inadequacy of the available staff, government hospitals employ temporary staff for 29 days to cope with the increasing work and later renew their contract again, if required,” Lahane’s petition stated.
The hospital has 250 permanent and 100 temporary class IV employees.
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