The infamous case of Chandhok versus Tirkey became the first caste discrimination case to be successful in the United Kingdom, with the victim receiving a sum of £184,00 from the Employment Tribunal.
The Tribunal case concerned a domestic servant belonging to a ‘lower’ caste brought over from India by a couple from a ‘higher’ caste and suffering extreme abuse for a pittance in wages.
The case highlights a largely hidden form of discrimination that the Indian and British Government often ignore. Before the last General Election, the ‘upper class’ Hindu lobby in the UK claimed that the Conservative party was, not only going to continue failing to officially enact Section 9 (5) of the Equalities Act making Caste discrimination illegal in employment, but would even repeal that part of the Act and that Indians should therefore vote for them!
Section 9 (5) of the Equalities Act says, A Minister of the Crown may by order:
“(a) amend this section so as to provide for caste to be an aspect of race;
(b) amend this Act so as to provide for an exception to a provision of this Act to apply, or not to apply, to caste or to apply, or not to apply, to caste in specified circumstances.”
Unfortunately, the Conservative Government has not enacted that section citing a lack of public consultation (which they singularly failed to organise).
Pat Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity Trade Union said: “This case shows that caste discrimination is being practiced in the United Kingdom. Section 9(5) of the Equalities Act (2010) must be amended to provide for caste to be an aspect of race so that it is clear that such discrimination will not be tolerated.”
The Equalities Act (2010) brought together various pieces of anti-discrimination legislation including the Race Relations Act. One key aspect of the legislation is the identification of a ‘Protected Characteristic’. This is age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. The recent successful case about caste surely strengthens the pillars of anti-discrimination laws in UK.