Mumbai Police have reinstated a constable who had quit in 2014 after an accident while on duty the year before had left him paralysed and depressed. In accordance with orders of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT), the police have also restored his salary and pension benefits.
Balasaheb Wakchaure, who is bedridden and stays with his aging parents in Vithe village in Ahmednagar’s Akole taluka, is glad that the police department decided to comply with MAT’s order instead of challenging it in the Bombay High Court.
“MAT’s order has given me another chance to live and enjoy a better quality of life. I am grateful to the tribunal, the police department and my lawyers,” he said.
While posted at Ghatkopar police station in May 2013, Wakchaure had noticed the branch of a tree hanging dangerously over a pedestrian path. He immediately climbed the tree to chop the branch. However, he fell to the ground when the branch snapped just as he was about to chop it. He underwent emergency surgery for a broken spinal cord. But he was left paralysed from neck down.
Over the next year, his wife divorced him and Wakchaure was forced to move back to his village as there was no one at his rented home in Kalyan to care for him. He slipped into depression after Mumbai Police stopped his salary. Wakchaure then sent his resignation to the department, which was accepted in 2015. Until then, Wakchaure had got by using his employee provident fund from 11 years of service, income from land that his parents cultivated and a donation of Rs 1 lakh made by his colleagues.
After a friend pointed out that his resignation tendered under duress was untenable under the Persons With Disabilities Act, he approached the MAT. As reported by The Indian Express in June, the tribunal pulled up the police department for not safeguarding Wakchaure’s rights as a disabled employee.
In a recent decision, the department has held Wakchaure’s resignation as null and void and restored all benefits that he would have availed had he not suffered the accident. Wakchaure said that having a steady salary again would help him support his parents. “They have taken care of me all this while. I will now employ full-time caretakers and ease the burden on my parents,” he said.