The Bombay High Court said that different municipal corporations adhering to different height criteria for women candidates applying for fire brigade posts was discriminatory.
"There cannot be different benchmarks for different corporations and that women candidates cannot suffer due to such arbitrary policy or any arbitrary approval of any such norms by the state government, which discriminates against women candidates who are similarly situated," said a division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain on October 26.
Petition challenges Height norms for fire brigade posts
The High Court was hearing a petition filed by four women, who have participated in the selection process meant for the post of fire extinguisher, against the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) which is conducting the tests. Advocate AS Rao, appearing for the women, said that the petitioners were informed that they don't comply with the height norms followed by the PMC, which requires women candidates to have a minimum height of 162 cm.
Rao further pointed out that according to the Maharashtra Fire Brigade Service Administration, the minimum height for women candidates is notified at 157 cm. However, the civic bodies of Pune, Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur are claiming that the height for women aspirants should be 162 cm while several other civic bodies in the state follow the 157 cm rule.
Inconsistencies in height criteria
Prima facie, a case of an “apparent discrimination” has been made out by the petitioners, the bench noted. In its interim order, the High Court directed the PMC to permit petitioners to participate in the selection process and that they should not not be disqualified on the ground of height norms. Clarifying that their final selection will be subject to the final outcome of the petition, the HC asked the PMC to file its reply and kept the plea for hearing on November 9.