Om my God! Duo wins promotion battle
MUMBAI: Two women railway clerks, who were denied promotion for having written "Om" on top of their departmental examination answer sheets, have won a battle for justice through legal—not divine—intervention after a year.
A Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Mumbai directed the railways to accommodate Swati Chitnis and Sujata Shinde, both senior clerks at Central Railway (CR), after holding that "invocation of divinity at the start of an enterprise or while assuming a high office is a universally adopted practice".
In the case before it, the CAT bench observed that the markings and writings (one of the sheet had ‘Shree Swami Samarth’ written on it) appear to be "sheer habitual invocation of divinity shorn of any ulterior motive". On Monday, the tribunal bench comprising Jog Singh and Sudhakar Mishtra directed Central Railway to promote them as it observed that the answer sheets had also been evaluated with no indication that the examiner had been prejudiced in any manner because of the markings on the sheet.
The women’s lawyer, Sandeep Marne, said the women were challenging a June 2008 order denying them promotion despite having done "extremely well in the departmental competitive examination". They learnt through the Right To Information (RTI) Act that they were bypassed only because of the ‘Om’ on the answer sheets.
Marne said the ‘Om’ was only written out of religious belief to bring good luck and not to mislead or secure extra marks. The CR office, through advocate S C Dhavan, argued that all candidates were warned before the examination against making any kind of identification mark on the answer paper. The CR said, "What the women did was in violation of these instructions and their disqualification is justified. Such markings may disclose their identity and influence the examiner, defeating the purpose of fair play in selection." But the answer sheets had been evaluated.