Women still have a “long way to go” to achieve a status equal to men as granted by the Constitution and their real empowerment can be achieved only through economic empowerment, the Supreme Court has said.
A Bench of Justices A K Sikri and Abhay M Sapre made the observation while allowing the appeal of a woman excise officer, who was denied appointment as deputy superintendent of police by Chhattisgarh government on the ground that she had crossed the age-limit required for the post.
“It is notwithstanding the fact that under Constitution of India, women enjoy a unique status of equality with men. In reality, however, they have yet to go a long way to achieve this constitutional status.”
“It is now realised that real empowerment would be achieved by women, which would lead to their well-being, facilitating enjoyment of rights guaranteed to them, only if there is an economic empowerment of women as well,” it said.
It also observed, “there is a bidirectional relationship between economic development and women’s empowerment, defined as improving the ability of women to access the constituents of development — in particular health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation.”
The Bench said that women are no longer passive recipients of welfare-enhancing help, but are increasingly seen as active agents of change that can alter the lives of both women and men.
“Till sometime back, the focus was to achieve better treatment for women and for this reason, the concentration was mainly on the well-being of women. Now, the focus has shifted to economic empowerment. Such objectives have gradually evolved or broadened to include the active role of women when it comes to development as well,” the Bench said in a 38-page verdict.
While directing the state government to appoint Richa Mishra as the deputy superintendent of police, the Bench said that Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Special Provision for Appointment of Women) Rules, 1997 read with State Services Examination Rules, 2003 would get attracted in this case.
The apex court further said, “as the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services Rules make a specific provision for providing of age relaxation upto ten years that is to be given to women candidates, the appellant herein shall be entitled to the said benefit.”
The Bench observed that the purpose of these rules was to encourage women, who otherwise face various kinds of gender disabilities and discrimination.
“The salutary purpose and objective behind promulgating Rules, 1997 is manifest and can be clearly discerned. It is to encourage women, hitherto known as weaker section, to become working women, by taking up different vocations, including public employment.
“It would naturally lead to empowerment of women, the need of the hour. Women in this world, and particularly in India, face various kinds of gender disabilities and discriminations,” it said.
Mishra’s plea was dismissed by the Chhattisgarh High Court on the ground that according to the Chhattisgarh Police Executive (Gazetted) Service Recruitment and Promotion Rules, 2000, the upper age limit for appointment to the post was 25 years. As she had already crossed the age limit, she was rendered ineligible for the post, the high court had said.
( Source – PTI )