In a case of religious discrimination, a Mumbai-based diamond jewellery export firm declined to entertain the job application of a youth on the grounds that he was a Muslim.
After the rejection letter sparked a controversy, the firm said it was an error on the part of one of its staff and it never practised religious discrimination.
The job-seeker, Zeeshan Ali Khan, a business management graduate from Mumbai, had applied for a position in Hari
Krishna Exports Pvt LTD, a leading exporter of diamond jewellery, as marketing executive but was shocked when he
received the response from the firm stating that it hires only 'non-Muslim candidates.'
"I just completed my final semester exams of MBA last week and like other classmates have been looking for a job. I
came across an update regarding a recruitment drive undertaken by leading diamond and jewelry exporter and thought it would be a great start for my career," Khan said.
"I along with my two classmates applied for the job. I forwarded them my resume on 19th May, 2015 at 05:45 PM and exactly 15 minutes later I got a reply from the HR in charge of the firm that my application has been rejected because the company only hires non-Muslims," Khan added.
"At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting foreign countries and inviting them for investment and pushing ahead the 'Make in India' campaign, the leading export houses are rejecting candidates for their religion," he said.
In its reply to Khan, the company said, "We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates." Khan later narrated his experience on a social networking site, following which and received a 'regret' mail from the
company after his post generated sharp reactions.
"As a company, we would like to reiterate that there is an error done by one of the newly joined HR trainees. Company functions without being biased with any caste, religion and gender," a company representative said in a posting on Facebook.
"It was a blunder and personal mess created by one of our trainees who has no decision making power. We have 61
employees in our office here including one Muslim in the HR team," Hari Krishna Exports Private Ltd said in the mail.
Taking note of the incident, activist Shehzad Poonawalla wrote to the National Commission for Minorities urging it to
look into the issue. In response, Naseem Ahmed, Chairman of the NMC said, "We have received the petition. If there is any truth in this, it is unfortunate. An inquiry shall be conducted," he said.
Khan's father Mohammed Ali said that his 22-year-old son had applied for the job but was rejected as he is a
Muslim. "We have approached police to seek justice against this discrimination," he said.
Mahendra S. Deshmukh, associate vice president and the head of human resource department of the firm, wrote: "We would like to clarify that the company does not discriminate against candidates based on gender, caste, religion, etc. Any hurt caused in the matter is deeply regretted."
Deshmukh also sought to pass on the blame to a trainee colleague, Dipika Tike, who he claimed had sent the erroneous email.
Since the controversy erupted, the company has terminated the services of the trainee woman employee, sources said.
When sought out for response, neither Deshmukh nor any other senior official of Hari Krishan Exports Pvt. Ltd. was available as they "were in a meeting".
Maharashtra Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse, who took a serious view of the matter, assured suitable action would be taken against the errant company.
"That somebody has been denied a job on grounds of religion is indeed most unfortunate. We will inquire into the incident and if the laws have been violated, we will initiate action," Khadse told reporters.
Nationalist Congress Party state spokesperson Nawab Malik flayed the company for denying a Muslim job on religious grounds and urged the central and state governments to act in the matter.
Rights activist Shehzad Poonawalla shot off a letter to the National Commission for Minorities and the union home ministry, seeking their intervention.
"This incident is a blatant violation of the spirit of the Constitution that mandates equality and absence of religious discrimination through Articles 14 and Article 25," Poonawalla said.