Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court struck down a clause in the guidelines of the Department of Sainik Welfare and Resettlement that made married daughters of ex-servicemen below the age of 25 ineligible for dependent ID cards, and said the guidelines depicted gender bias.
Guideline 5(c) for issuance of the dependent ID card made daughters who are married ineligible. However, for sons of service personnel it is at the age of attaining 25 years.
Justice M Nagaprasanna, in a judgment dated January 2, 2023, struck down the words “till married" in the clause terming it as unconstitutional and against the provisions of Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution.
“The very object with which the welfare schemes are created for the benefit of the kith and kin of a deceased ex-servicemen is taken away, because the petitioner is the daughter and the daughter is married. If the ex-servicemen had sons, marriage would not have made any difference. It is for this reason, the guideline falls foul of the tenets of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The guideline is a depiction of gender stereotypes which were existent decades ago, and if permitted to remain would be an anachronistic obstacle in the march towards women's equality,” the court said.
The petition was filed by Priyanka R Patil from Mysuru. Her father Subedar Ramesh Khandappa Patil died while clearing land mines in Punjab in 2001 and was declared 'killed in action.' Priyanka had applied for a post of assistant professor under the ex-serviceman quota of 10 per cent. However, the department refused to give her an ID card following which she approached the High Court.
Ordering the department to provide Priyanka the ID card within two weeks, the High Court said, "The guidelines will fly on the face of the tenets of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India."
The High Court also suggested that gender neutral terms should be used and the state and central governments should consider changing the nomenclature from ex servicemen to ex-service persons. "The word 'men' in the title, a part of the word ex-servicemen, would seek to demonstrate a misogynous posture of an age old masculine culture. There has to be a change in the mindset of the rule making authority or the policy makers,” the court said.
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