The Karnataka High Court has struck down the guidelines on 02.01.23 excluding married daughters from Ex-servicemen Scheme under Justice M Nagaprasanna in Priyanaka R Patil v. Kendriya Sainik Board(Writ Petition No 19722 of 2021). The guidelines were issued by Department of Sainik Welfare and Resettlement by which married daughters under the age of 25 years were held ineligible for issuance of dependent Identity cards. The Identity Card if issued makes them eligible to apply for government jobs in reserved category for ex-servicemen.
The petitioner was the second daughter of Subedar Ramesh Khandappa Patil Police. She completed her graduation in 2015 and was eligible to be considered for appointment in the State Government in any recruitment process that would ensue.
The wards of ex-servicemen were provided 10% reservation in any recruitment process in all the departments of the government. The petitioner intending to apply for the post of assistant professor as she was the part of an Ex-Servicemen finding herself eligible in all other criteria approached the deputy director of Zilla Sainik Welfare Board, for issuance of a dependant Identity card to demonstrate that she is a daughter of Ex-Servicemen. But she was denied to be issued such an identity card quoting guidelines for issuance of dependant identity cards which depicts that identity cards cannot be issued to married daughters.
On going through the guidelines the bench noted that “The sons are issued the I-card subject to them not attaining the age of 25 years or on ceasing to be dependant whichever is earlier or remains unemployed due to lifetime disability. These are not the conditions for the daughter.”
It was then observed that all guidelines were same for both sons and daughters till the time the daughter gets married or is unemployed due to lifetime disability. “What can be gathered from the aforesaid clauses of the guideline is, the son the moment he attains the age of 25 years or on ceasing to become a dependant as defined under the guideline, he would lose the benefit of getting an I-card. To the daughter, it is till she gets married. So, if the daughter is wanting to get the benefit of grant of an I-card, she has to remain unmarried or be unemployed due to lifetime disability. Marriage of the daughter takes away the benefit. The guidelines would thus depict gender bias qua the status of the daughter “married and unmarried”.”
“The issue in the case at hand does not concern a statute, but a guideline in the form of a policy; a policy in the form of a guideline, it is therefore, on a lower pedestal than that of a statute. If statutes are held to be violative of the tenets of Article 14 of the Constitution of India by the Constitutional Courts for the reason that it depicts discrimination resulting in gender bias, a guideline in the form of policy would pale into insignificance, if it portrays such discrimination, even to its remotest sense.”
The bench rejected the respondent’s submission and said “The son gets the 26 benefit whether he is married or unmarried; the daughter gets the benefit only if she remains unmarried. Here lies the discriminatory choke, as the guideline portrays bias on the basis of gender; inequality on the basis of gender, as marriage of the daughter takes away her right to get an I-card and marriage of a son does not take away his right to get an I-card.”
It also added “if the son remains a son, married or unmarried; a daughter shall remain a daughter, married or unmarried. If the act of marriage does not change the status of the son; the act of marriage cannot and shall not change the status of a daughter.”
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VAISHNAVI SINGH