Mumbai: Professor alleges she was fired because of her caste

May 03, 2016, 14:35 IST | Pallavi Smart

Kirti Sonawane accuses management of terminating her service for applying in open category despite being a candidate from reserved category; college refutes allegations

A suburban college has come under the education department’s scanner following a complaint lodged by one of its former professors whose service was terminated by the college management just four months after her appointment in October 2015.

Kirti Sonawane outside Mumbai University at Fort. Pic/Suresh KK
Kirti Sonawane outside Mumbai University at Fort. Pic/Suresh KK

In her complaint to the Joint Director of Higher Education (Mumbai), Kirti Sonawane accused the Authorities of KG Mittal College of Arts and Commerce of firing her because she applied for the post of an assistant professor in Commerce stream through the open category though she fell under the reserved category. Sonawane hails from Bhusawal.

“My appointment as an assistant professor (business communication) was done as per the protocol, following which an appointment letter was issued on October 1, 2015. While executing paperwork, the principal asked me whether I really belonged to the open category to which I replied in negative. I told her that I belong to the reserved category and had applied for the post, as it was available for the open category. I was rebuked for doing so and was told to wait outside her office. Minutes later I was given a new appointment letter. Unlike the previous one, it lacked the standard format. During my brief tenure at the college, I was subjected to mental torture daily. None of my colleagues would talk to me,” said Sonawane.

She alleged that in February, the college management threatened her with suspension of service if she did not resign. “Since no one offered a proper justification, I refused do so following which my service was terminated. Now, I’m running from pillar to post seeking justice.”

The other side
When contacted, principal Dr Suhasini Arya rubbished Sonawane’s allegations and accused the former assistant professor of mentally harassing the other staffers.

She said, “If we had issues with her caste, then we wouldn’t have appointed her in the first place. Soon after her appointment, she went on a long leave and demanded medical leave privileges that she wasn’t entitled to during the probation period. Since she was unwell, we asked her to resume work after recovery. However, we made it clear that she wouldn’t be getting any privileges. This didn’t go down well with her and she started harassing other staffers by lodging false complaints against them daily. Her service was terminated in accordance with the existing regulation. It has nothing to do with her caste. Even I was subjected to mental torture by the complainant, who is levelling frivolous allegations.”

Official speak
Commenting on the issue, Dr MA Khan, registrar, Mumbai University, said, “As per the directive issued by the joint director of higher education on April 20, a panel of experts was formed by the university in this regard. The panel visited the college last week and is expected to submit its report before the MU authorities soon, which will later be forwarded to the joint director of education.”

When asked whether a candidate from the reserved category can apply for vacancies available in the open category, Khan said that open category means open to all and that candidates from any category could apply for the available positions.

“Here, it is important to know why a candidate’s appointment was terminated within the probation period of one year. The committee should be able to present it in its report,” he added.

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