: Bombay high court

Swati Deshpande,TNN | Dec 7, 2013, 04.44 AM IST

MUMBAI: Striking a blow for gender equality, theBombay high court on Friday held that a married daughter too is eligible for a job on compassionate grounds in place of her father, after his demise. To allow only an unmarried daughter but deny a married one the chance to be given a government job on compassionate grounds is in violation of right to equality, equal right to public employment and even right to life, said the HC. Such discrimination is “not expected from a welfare state” the court said.

The order, say lawyers is landmark, as it removes restrictive and discriminatory shackles of a two-decade-old government resolution. The state had in October 1994 passed a resolution which allowed unmarried daughters but excluded married ones from the zone of eligibility to be given a government job held by the parent.

The HC ruling came on a petition filed by a 29-year-old Swara Kulkarni who had challenged an order passed by an irrigation project officer in Pune that held her ineligible for consideration to a post in her father’s place after his death.

The superintending officer of the Pune Irrigation Project Circle had based its order on the 1994 Maharashtra government resolution.

A bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite-Dere emphasizing the need for equality in government policies allowed her petition and quashed the irrigation officer’s order. It directed that Kulkarni’s name be restored to a waiting list maintained by the water resource department of the state and that her case be considered for appointment on compassionate grounds based on “applicable policy”.

After hearing Kulkarni’s counsel Ashutosh Kulkarni who questioned the legality and correctness of the government decision, the judges ruled, “The stand of the Maharashtra government that a married daughter is ineligible to be considered for appointment on compassionate grounds is violative of Articles 14, 16 and 21 (constitutional right to equality, right to equality of employment in matters of public employment and right to life.”

The woman’s father Ashok Kulkarni worked as a wireman and died in service on September 2003. Her younger sister and mother, the widow, were not interested in the job so she applied for it, she said. In 2011 the government informed her that it dropped her name from the list as she married after 1994. She pointed out that she married in 2008, four years after she applying for the job. As the government did not relent, she moved court since the aim of the policy was to ensure the family does not suffer due to the sudden loss of income.


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