“BSNL Exploited My Mother For 24 Yrs, Her Salary & Pension Still Pending,” Says Son Of 71-Yr-Old
Denied of her rights, feeble and helpless yet determined to get justice an elderly woman is fighting the legal battle against Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for years now. A 71-year-old, a resident of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Chinmayee Moitra claims that she has been denied of her due salary and pension from BSNL. The widow and mother of four is fighting her legal battle for the last 24 years, just in the hope that the employers BSNL at some point of her life would pay her dues back, at least before “she dies”.
Underpaid for six years
At a very young age, Chinmayee Moitra started working for the BSNL then called as a department of Telecom in 1971. After working for a few years as a temporary telephone operator, in 1977, she was given a permanent position and was appointed as the Stenographer, a grade three rank official. At almost the same time she also got married. Young, strong-minded and hardworking Chinmayee was admirably balancing her work life and her personal life like most of the working women. And because of her good work at the office soon, she was asked to work on a higher position, as a grade two official. However, she was still working on the same old pay scale of grade three official.
Six years passed, and she wrote several letters and application to her higher officials, complaining that she was being underpaid for years. She requested the officials to increase her salary as her husband’s health was not keeping well and medical bills and children expenditures were swelling.
In 1993, the BSNL authority did reply to her plea, but to Chinmayee surprise, it was not to increase her wages but to demote her from grade two official position. She was also informed that she would be replaced by her 11-year junior colleagues, R.K. Srivastava.
“For six years BSNL asked her to work on the higher position, extracting more work from her and without even giving her what she deserved. When she decided to protest to the injustice, she was replaced by her junior. How is that fair?” said her youngest son Malay Moitra, while taking to The Logical Indian. Underpaid for at least six years, Chinmayee then decided to stand for herself, also opposing her demotion. She took the matter to her authorities, but her plea landed on the deaf ears. When she found herself being dejected by BSNL officials, she then resorted to a legal battle.
Seeking justice, she then filed a case in the Central Administrative Tribunal Allahabad ( CAT, Allahabad) and in November 1993, the tribunal ruled in her favour, told Malay. He said that it was almost his mother’s first victory, as the tribunal said, “…Before giving promotion to her junior, her case should have been considered first. Hence, thereby directing the Telecom department to dispose of her representation for promotion within three months. In the meantime, if the order which she was being transferred back to lower grade has not been given effect to, status-quo should be maintained..,” told Malay to The Logical Indian.
Chinmayee thought her woes were over. Hopeful to get her dues and her position back, she reached her office with the order copy. “However, the BSNL (then controlling officer Mr A.N Rai) had another plan for her. Not just they denied her to pay her dues but they also forcefully asked her to stop coming to office. They asked her to wait for an order from her officials to resume office,” the son added.
The trouble accelerates
A few months passed, but Chinmayee did not receive any order to resume office. Her applications were also not being answered In February 1994, just months after the tribunal court’s order, BSNL abruptly stopped her salary even as a grade three employee.
“They said that now that you have got a court’s order we would not take you back. The officials told her that the court had asked them (BSNL) to maintain ‘status quo’, which according to them was to demote her to the grade three post. They (BSNL) said that the matter is officials now so you would have to wait for admin’s order to resume work,” said Malay.
According to Malay, it was just two months of not getting her salary and the sole breadwinner of the family, Chinmayee, had started to face difficulties in keeping up the family. Paying for the school fee for her four kids of age four to ten and then paying for her husband’s medical bills was becoming unbearable for her.
“I was very young when my mother was facing all these problems. I remember that at that time her entire days would go running around various offices of Telecom, then BSNL requesting superiors to let her join her duties and release her salary. And in the evenings she would meet her relatives and friends to ask them to provide her with some financial help to run the family,” said Malay.
After her several pleas to let her resume the work were completely ignored, the mother of four, Chinmayee started doing odd jobs like stitching and she also started giving tuition classes to children, told the son.
BSNL forced her to resign
With bulging debt, Chinmayee continued her legal fight. The family again knocked the court’s door. Of her four children (two daughters and two sons) three had to drop out of the schools as their mother was no longer able to pay for their school fee, simultaneously, with other expanding bills. With lack of steady income, all the three kids at a very young age started to support the family in some or the other way by doing odd jobs, only the youngest son Malay, was able to go to school.
Malay claims that in 1999, his mother was given a compulsory retirement form BSNL without being paid her dues. It has been more than 24 years, and the family is still fighting the legal battle for Chinmayee’s pending salary and pension. Recently, BSNL’s review plea in High court was also dismissed by the court, which maintained that the Chinmayee should be getting her dues, told Malay. He also told us that the BSNL did not give mere subsistence allowance or travelling allowance to his mother, which is must to be paid to any officials facing compulsory retirement.
Chinmayee lost her husband a few years ago, and she is 71-year-old. Her elder daughters are married, and one of them has now started to pursue her graduation. The eldest son has also begun his study again, and the youngest son is working as a Navy merchant. In all the years gone, Chinmayee, still hope that to get justice. “My mother has struggled a lot, she has faced humiliation, by her colleagues, through her years of pain and suffering could not be reduced but I just hope that she gets justice before she dies,” said the son.
The Logical Indian also tried to reach the BSNL officials for their response, however, no response has been given by them until the time of publishing the article.