The Labour Commissioner has been asked by the Bombay High Court to have a re-look at a standing order of Podar Textile Mill which allows efficient male workers to work for three years post-retirement, while depriving the same benefit to their female counterparts.
The court was of the view that after approval of the impugned standing order 20-A by the Labour Commissioner in 1958, much water has flown thereafter both in terms of studies of longevity, physical fitness of employees generally and also the constitutional jurisprudence about the right of equality of women under Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution.
“It would, therefore, be in the fitness of things to direct the Commissioner of Labour to have a re-look into the standing order 20-A and submit a report to this court within two months from today, clearly opining whether there is justification for not giving benefits of Standing Order 20-A to women operatives in textile mills, who continue to be efficient up to age of 63 years,” a bench ruled recently.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta were hearing the plea of Laxmi Patil, a Podar Mill worker, who had challenged the constitutional validity of standing order 20-A as she was made to retire at 60 and not given the benefit of continuing in service till 63 years like her male colleagues.
The impugned section 20-A provides that an operative (skilled worker in a manufacturing industry) shall retire from service on attaining age of 60 years, but a male operative shall be retained in service if he continues to be efficient up to the age of 63 years, provided that when retrenchment becomes necessary, a person who has completed 60 years may be retired in preference to younger men.
Directing the Labour Commissioner to have a re-look at the impugned standing order, the court, however, asked him to give a personal hearing to the petitioner as well as the union representatives and the mill management.