GENDER INEQUALITY (Savita Samvedi vs. Union of India)
Gender discrimination is the unequal or disadvantageous treatment of an individual or group of individuals based on gender. According to the constitution of India, every citizen irrespective of their gender, caste, or religion has the same rights. No one shall be discriminated based on those parameters. Even though there are several such articles and similar provisions in various statutes, gender discrimination is still prevalent in India. It happens at homes, schools, offices, and in almost all the fields where women have been employed. It is a bitter truth that even after these many years of independence, it is prevalent in India. There are many cases of gender inequality that were reported in several courts in India. Savita Samvedi vs. Union of India is an example of one such case in which the judgment was rendered by the Supreme Court of India. Judgment was rendered by Justice Punchhi, M.M, on January 30th, 1996. The facts of the case were as follows:
Father and his married daughter were in service of the Indian Railways and they were the two appellants in this case. While he was in his service, he was allotted railway quarters. He was due to retire on 31.12.1993. Before his retirement, he requested railway authorities to permit his married daughter to share the accommodation with him in the railway quarters which had been allotted to him. His daughter was also a railway employee and by claiming that he made the request. That request was approved by the authorities with a condition that she can stay in his railway quarters as long as her father is in the service and has to be vacated after the retirement of her father. She started staying in her father's quarters since then and before the retirement of her father, she requested the railway authorities to permit her to continue in the railway quarters as her brothers were not capable of look after her parents and she was capable and willing to take care of her parents. That request was rejected on the ground that a married daughter was not eligible for the regularization of a railway quarter. Both the appellants then took the matter to the Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi but got a negative response. Her request was declined because of the Railway Circular on the subject. According to the government circular, when a Railway servant who is an allottee of Railway accommodation retires from service, his/her son, unmarried daughter, wife, husband, or father as the case may be, may be allotted Railway accommodation on out of turn basis subject to fulfillment of a prescribed condition. Even though the government included married daughters in this category by issuing a new circular later, that was subject to some conditions such as the retiring official should not have any sons or if he has, they should be minors or not capable of maintaining their parents because of any other reasons and the daughter should be the only earning member of the family, etc. So it is obvious from the plain reading of the Circular that the married daughter of a retiring official is eligible to obtain regularization if her retiring father has no son.
The Judgment was challenged and the case finally reached the Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court observed that the said circular of government is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it puts restrictions on married daughters. The Apex Court also set aside the judgment of the Tribunal by stating that the circular was meant only to enlist the eligibles, who could claim regularization, but the important condition of one being a railway employee had to be satisfied before the claim could be laid. In this case, none of his sons were railway employees and hence they are not eligible for railway quarters even though they had a job and they were capable of maintaining their parents in any other ways. If the married daughter has a railway job and no one else in the family has, only she will be eligible for railway quarters. So here, the father could exercise his choice in her favor to retain the accommodation, obligating the railway authorities to regularize the quarter in the daughter's favor. The court observed that the restriction on married daughters is unconstitutional and hence they should not get restricted on that ground. The Circular shall be taken to have been read down the deemed to have been read in this manner from its initiation in favor of the married daughter as one of the eligibles, subject, amongst others, to the twin conditions that she is
(i) A railway employee
(ii) The retiring official has exercised the choice in her favor for regularization. It is so ordered.
The Apex Court allowed the appeal and ordered that the daughter is eligible for railway quarters at the request of her father, who was a railway official, to the officials concerned.
According to Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, everyone is equal before the law or everyone should get equal protection of the law. It is interesting to note that the scope of article 14 extends not only to the citizens of India but also to the foreigners. Article 15 further says that no one shall be discriminated based on sex, religion, race, caste, and place of birth. There should be no discrimination to access to shops, public restaurants, parks, or any other places of public entertainment. Article 19 deals with freedom of speech and expression while Article 21 deals with the right to life & personal liberty. All the citizens of India have the right to cast their opinion about anything which they want to without any unlawful restriction. They can cast their opinion and promulgate their views about it by any means. It also gives the right to form a union or association, the Right to move freely throughout the territory of India, Reside in any part of India, and to carry out any trade, profession, or occupation according to their discretion without any objection from anyone. Freedom of the Press is an implied right that is guaranteed by this article of the Indian constitution. Article 21 stipulates that everyone has the right to life and the right to personal liberty. Article 14, Article 19, Article 21 is considered important articles of the Indian constitution and hence they are known as the 'Golden Triangle of Indian Constitution. Article 41 aims to secure work, education, and public assistance rights for persons in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, disablement, and undeserved want.
There are various articles and various statutes to prohibit any kind of discrimination towards the weaker section of society and especially towards women. But still, it is a fact that a lot of such inequalities have been happening towards women. Women suffer a lot in their homes, workplaces and almost all the sectors where she is employed. In terms of property, education, and political power, women have been facing discrimination. Achieving gender justice is not only a matter of basic rights. It's also a key means of achieving fairer societies and overcoming poverty. And we all have an equal part to play in making it happen.
2. Constitution of India, Bare act
MS. SAVITA SAMVEDI AND ANOTHER vs. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS, SUPREME COURT OF INDIA, 30/01/1996