Kerala: Victim of red tape, forgery for over 35 years, Sadanandan sees ray of hope

In 2018, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had ordered the state chief secretary to pay a compensation of Rs 18 lakh for bureaucratic laxity in denying him the loan.
 N Sadanandan
N SadanandanPhoto | Express

ALAPPUZHA: Justice delayed is justice denied. Take the previously documented case of N Sadanandan, an elderly farm worker knocking on the doors of justice for over three-and-a-half decades and was earlier this month accorded some relief.

On June 4, the 73-year-old, who suffers from osteoporosis and struggles even to walk, received a notice asking him to appear before the Alappuzha deputy collector on June 12 with documents to prove that officials had colluded to deny him a self-employment loan.

In 2018, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had ordered the state chief secretary to pay a compensation of Rs 18 lakh for bureaucratic laxity in denying him the loan. But official apathy further ensured that the file remained buried for years.

Sadanandan, who hails from Cheppad, applied for the Rs 1 lakh loan with the Kayamkulam employment office in June 1988. The Cheppad village officer buried his application in red tape for four years. Later, the official submitted a report to the district collector that said Sadanandan has an annual income of Rs 2,400 and the collector cleared his application. However, the employment officer put the order on hold for two years and produced a fake income certificate that showed that Sadanandan was ineligible for the loan.

As part of his fight for justice, the agriculture worker approached many officials, including the prime minister’s office (PMO). In 2011, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) ordered that Rs 25,000 be immediately paid to the petitioner.

“Sadanandan represents the general public who are forced to wander government offices in search of justice. A farm labourer’s relentless fight against the bureaucracy was relevant in the period of the implementation of the Right to Service Act,” an order issued by commission chairman N Natarajan said.

“I even submitted memoranda to the Legislative Petitions Committee and People’s Union for Social Justice pointing out the failures on the part of officialdom,” recounts Sadanandan, who had studied till 10th grade.

“In 2011, the KSHRC directed the payment of Rs 25,000 as reasonable compensation. Two years later, I filed a petition with the NHRC, which sought a report from the state chief secretary and issued an order to allot Rs 200 per day for 25 years and six months, which amounted to Rs 18,61,500. However, the chief secretary submitted that Rs 200 was my monthly income and those with a monthly income of above Rs 50 are not eligible for loan under the government’s self-employment scheme,” says Sadanandan.

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