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Judge’s Memo to Dalit Staff on “Washing Undergarments” Goes Viral


A sub-judge in Erode has issued a notice to a woman court staff asking for an explanation for not washing clothes properly in his house. The woman staff replied by sending an apology, and the response and the judge’s notice have since gone viral on social media.

You did not wash the clothes given to you for washing in the sub-judge’s house. You felt revulsions to wash undergarments and threw them away. You also argued with the judge and his wife when asked about this.

Notice issued to the woman court staff

‘Why Can’t You Wash Clothes Properly?’

Notice issued to the woman court staff. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
Notice issued to the woman court staff. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Above is the letter sent to the 47-year-old Dalit court staff S Vasanthi on 1 February 2016 asking for a response in the next seven days or disciplinary action will be initiated against her.

According to The New Indian Express, after this incident, the sub-judge’s wife also came to the court to argue with the court staff. Vasanthi said that she came to meet the sub-judge but he was not available. She showed the letter to the PA and he calmed her down.

In response to the notice, she wrote in the letter, “From now onwards, I will work properly and will not let any complaints come related to my work. Please forgive me and redeem me from disciplinary action.”

The judge Selvam told The Indian Express that he needs to check his files as it has been one month since the incident. When asked about if making a court staff do domestic work was correct, he refused to respond.

Vasanthi told The New Indian Express that since then she has been working without having any conversations with his wife. She is a Class 10 passout and has been working for the past nine years. She has to look after her ailing husband.

Outrage Over the Memo

Woman staff’s response. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
Woman staff’s response. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The judicial employees association in Tamil Nadu has decided to go to the Madras High Court after this incident in Erode. The association said that they have verified the incident and are going ahead with the petition.

Such incidents are not unusual. In 2012, The Hindu had reported about an office assistant of the District Court in Madurai who claimed that she rarely assisted in office work and instead was asked to sweep and mop the judge’s house.

She had told The Hindu, “There are no fixed working hours. I am asked to report for duty at the judicial officers’ residence at around 6 am and allowed to go back home only beyond 8 pm after preparing and serving dinner. As a government servant, I am entitled to weekly offs, casual leave as well as government holidays. But I cannot dare to claim them as my right. It all depends upon the generosity of the officer at whose residence I work.”Judge’s Memo to Dalit Staff on “Washing Undergarments” Goes Viral.

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