The Kerala High Court dismissed a job condition and made an observation that a woman who meets all the qualifications for a job position cannot be denied the employment solely on the ground that she is woman and that the nature of work would require her to work at nigh hours.
The bench set aside such an embargo that had been a part of job notification issued by Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. and which allowed only male candidates to apply for the job position.
In the instant case, the applicant was a graduate engineer trainee at the safety department. She challenged the said notification issued by public sector undertaking, for the permanent post of Safety Officer.
She contended that the said notification is discriminatory in nature and her right for being considered for a particular employment had been violated by inviting only male candidates.
She also prayed for declaring Section 66(1)(b) of Factories Act, 1948 as unconstitutional as it stipulates that women shall work only between 6am to 7pm.
The bench observed that the said embargo violated Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution. The bench also noted that the protective provisions for women cannot stand in their way to be considered for an employment, especially when their qualifications make them eligible for that job position.
The bench upheld the duty of government functionaries and stated that they should take all appropriate measures to see that a woman employee is able to carry out the work assigned to her safely and comfortably, irrespective of the nature of hours.
With regard to Section 66(1)(b) of the Act, the court relied upon a catena of judgments which stated that this provision had been included in to protect women from any type of exploitation, however, the societal stereotypes could come in their way of fundamental rights.
The bench stated that it is just a protective provision and cannot operate as an excuse for not accepting women candidates.