Women's issues and the law: India

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Adult women’s rights

Adult girl has a right to live life of her choice: SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Adult girl has a right to live life of her choice: SC, January 6, 2018: The Times of India

Striking hard at the societal tendency to impose restrictions on girls with regard to their choice of dress, profession and life partner, the Supreme Court on Friday declared that an adult woman enjoyed an unfettered right to lead a life of her choice.

“It needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual’s life has its own significance. S/he is entitled to make her/his choice. The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae (legal protector),” said a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

“The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or egotism of the father. We say so without any reservation,” it said.

Reiteration of constitutional respect to a girl’s choice in the face of parental and societal pressures assume significance as the apex court had recently followed the same principle while permitting Hadiya to pursue her studies, despite the love-jihad allegations levelled by her father and the Kerala HC decision to annul her marriage to a Muslim man after conversion.

Before rejecting a Thiruvananthapuram-based mother’s emotive plea seeking to wrest custody of her daughter from her estranged husband in Kuwait, the judges on the bench interacted with the 19-year-old girl, whose father was ordered to produce her before the court, and ascertained her choice.

The girl said she was pursuing graduation through a correspondence course from Indira Gandhi National Open University while simultaneously doing an internship in Huawei Technologies Kuwait Co. The confident 19-year-old unwaveringly told the court that she would like to reside in Kuwait with her father and pursue her career.

The mother’s counsel alleged that her daughter has been pressured by the father to blurt out whatever was tutored and that her decision was not an informed one. The bench said the girl has, without any hesitation, clearly stated that she intended to go back to Kuwait to pursue her career.

However, there was some consolation for the mother. The SC ordered the estranged husband to send the 13-year-old son to the mother in Kerala during the summer vacations.

Affirmative action ('reservations')

50% quota for women in Rajasthan's local bodies

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

Raj HC strikes down 50% quota for women

Abhinav Sharma | TNN

Jaipur: Even as the UPA government at the Centre gets ready to bring the women’s reservation Bill in Parliament on International Women’s Day, the Rajasthan HC on Friday struck down 50% quota provided to women in civic and and local bodies by the state government. The court’s Jaipur bench also struck down the government’s proposal to provide quota to youth in local bodies.

During the recent local bodies, 50% of the seats were reserved for women, which resulted in election of 15 of the 33 women zilla pramukhs. The court, however, clarified that those already elected would not be affected. But in future no 50% quota would be provided to women, it clarified.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice M N Bhandari observed that 50% reservation for women and earmarking certain seats for candidates in the age group of 21-35 were ‘‘unconstitutional’’.

‘‘The Constitution provides for a maximum of 33% quota for women. So there is an embargo in providing more than what is mentioned in the Constitution,’’ said Chief Justice Bhalla while delivering the judgment. The court observed the state government has failed to justify its action in enhancing the reservation.

Court judgements

Marriage cannot be ground to sack woman: SC

AmitAnand.Choudhary, February 21, 2024: The Times of India

SC: Marriage cannot be ground to sack woman

New Delhi : Observing that any law which makes marriage of woman employees and their domestic involvement a ground for disentitlement is unconstitutional, Supreme Court has directed the Centre to pay Rs 60 lakh to a permanent commissioned officer from Military Nursing Service, who was fired from her job in 1988 after she got married.

Lt Selina John’s job was terminated as per Army instruction no. 61 of 1977 titled “Terms and Conditions of Service for the Grant of Permanent Commissions in the Military Nursing Service”, but it was withdrawn in 1995 when litigation was pending.

“Acceptance of such a patriarchal rule undermines hu man dignity and right to nondiscrimination,” the court said while hearing an appeal by the Centre challenging an Armed Forces Tribunal order for her reinstatement.


Hours of employment

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

Are we living in Nazi Germany? HC to govt

Shibu Thomas | TNN

Mumbai: ‘‘Are we living in Nazi Germany?’’ Bombay high court asked the Maharashtra government on Thursday, while hearing a petition challenging the ban on woman working in bars, restaurants and commercial establishments after 9.30pm.

A division bench of Justice F I Rebello and Justice Amjad Sayed came down heavily on the government asking it to close down the bars, if it thought drinking was bad. To tackle the depraved conduct of those who drink, should women lose their their jobs, the court asked. The court questioned the mentality that considers ‘‘women like some commodity who have to be treated differently’’.

The court pointed out that women were excelling in all sphere of life, from domestic work to air force pilots and the armed forces. ‘‘Can you tell a citizen of this country that she cannot work at a place because she is a woman or is uneducated?’’ asked the bench.

The petition filed by Womanist Organization of India and the Bharatiya Bar Girls’ Union claimed that the ban under the Shops and Establishment Act and the Public Entertainment Act was discriminatory, as women were allowed to work in five star hotels and call centres during night hours. ‘‘The 9.30pm rule violates the fundamental right of woman to earn her livelihood,’’ said counsel for the petitioners’ Ashutosh Kumbhakoni.

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