Judiciary positively discriminates in favour of women employees

Judiciary positively discriminates in favour of women employeesThe Supreme Court formulates a justified move as it reversed the Delhi High Court’s decision consenting Air India’s move of grounding air hostesses for being overweight. It not only quashed the termination but also stayed all future terminations of airhostesses on account of their being overweight.

This seems to be just an effort to add to already established precedents in cases like Air India v. Nargesh Mirza.1 Here, the SC had struck down the rule stipulating termination of air hostesses on their first pregnancy. Also, in the case of C.B. Muthamma v. Union of India2, the SC repealed the provisions of Indian Foreign Service (Conduct and Discipline) Rules, 1961 requiring a female employee to obtain permission from the Government prior to marriage and was suppose to resign if the Government decides that her marital commitments hamper her work.

The questions that arise include - why men are not subjected to similar conditions like termination from service on becoming a father or required to obtain consent from their employers before getting married or terminated after marriage if the work is not satisfactory. Does marriage or pregnancy by any way reduce capabilities of a woman and not that of a man?

On one hand we are quashing bans on women by amending the colonial laws, for instance the Factories Act, 1948 was amended in 2005 to allow night shifts for women and the law also removed ban on women bar tenders. Contrary to the same, some states prefer to stick to the medieval age beliefs. States like Tamilnadu and Karnataka amended their Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1961 to restrict employment of women in shops and commercial establishments at night on grounds of security. While at the same time, women working in IT and biotechnology sectors, hospitals and other essential services were exempted from the ban.3 Are women employed in this sector totally safe and do not require any kind of security? Nevertheless, the provision was reversed in totality owing to the pressure from various agencies and women activist groups.

Where our constitution guarantees Right to Work and No Discrimination on basis of gender by means of Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights vide Article 41, 15 and 16, such instances of gender discrimination should not be welcomed.

There are multiple precedents by judiciary for empowering women employees by protecting their rights. Despite being in the midst of globalization and increasing talk of women empowerment, discriminatory grounds still exist. Judiciary is continuously working to curb discrimination but time and again like epidemics, it resurfaces. The need is to put in efforts to work out a permanent solution to the issue.

 

- Palak Lotiya (views expressed in the article are that of the author)

References:

1.1981 (4) SCC 335.

2.(1979) USCC. 260.

3.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Karnataka_notifies_law_banning_night_shift_for_women/articleshow/2027282.cms

 

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