Notice issued to State Govt on Plea Seeking Voting Rights for Women in Shri Jain Shwetambar Nakoda Parshvanath Tirth Trust: Rajasthan High Court.
The Rajasthan High Court passed a judgement on 07-08-2018 in the case of Surya Jain vs State of Rajasthan and Ors. S.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 19434/2022. The Rajasthan High Court has issued notice to the state government on a petition challenging the denial of voting rights to women in the election for membership in Shri Jain Shwetambar Nakoda Parshvanath Tirth Trust. Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur has listed the matter for hearing on January 19. “Issue notice of stay application also,” said the court.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
“The respondents have withheld the rights of women to participate and cast votes in the elections conducted by the respondent trust. Through the present writ petition, the petitioners are seeking directions to be issued to the respondent authorities to undertake the election process of the respondent trust strictly in accordance with the Constitution of the respondent trust and the Constitution of India,” said the petition.
The petitioners – three women from Jodhpur, submitted that on 19.08.2022, a notification was issued by Trust informing the public about the election for choosing trust members. In furtherance of the notification, voting tokens were issued, however, the Trust orally denied issuing voting tokens to the petitioners stating that the Trust does not issue voting tokens to women and that no woman had ever been issued voting the tokens, the plea said.
Accordingly, the petitioners were excluded from the preliminary voter list which was issued on 20.09.2022. Aggrieved by this, an objection was filed by the petitioners before the Trust, however, the petitioners were not included in the final list issued on 08.10.2022. “The helpless petitioners in such circumstances filed an application under section 38 of the [Rajasthan Public Trust] Act of 1959 on 29.09.2022, seeking direction from the respond no. 3 [Assistant Commissioner, Devasthan Department] to approach the Civil Court having the jurisdiction upon the respondent trust to get the directions to undertake the election process in accordance with the constitution of the trust and principally to seek the directions from the civil co court to issue voting token to the petitioners and all other eligible and interested women,” the women said in the plea.
However, according to the plea, the authority dismissed the application on 06.10.2022 without even issuing notices to the trust. The women further said that a detailed representation was made to the department praying for immediate interference in the matter. “In the meanwhile, the respondent trust has also proceeded to finalize the election process and has also elected the “sabhapati” of the respondent trust to undertake the further process of election of the members of the trust. lt is also. worthwhile to mention here that interested and eligible contestants have also submitted their candidature to be the member of respondent trust and final dates of voting have also been published which starts from onwards,” the plea said.
The petitioners contend it is sheer irony that “where at one end women [are] worshipped as a deity in the form of god inside the premises of the temple and at the other end they are being denied the basic right to stand at par with their male counterparts.” As per the petitioners, the exclusion of women in this case was wholly unreasonable and irrational and in violation of the fundamental guarantees enshrined under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India.
The petition places reliance on the Supreme Court decisions in Madhu Kishwar and Others v. State of Bihar and Others, (1996) 5 SCC 125, Vishaka and Others v. State of Rajasthan and Others, AIR 1997 SC 3011 and on Secretary (Ministry of Defense) v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469. The petitioners have submitted that Section 7 of the Constitution of the Trust nowhere bars the issuance of voting rights to women. “That the original byelaws framed for the society and mentioned in the constitution of the trust nowhere differentiates between men and women neither does it bars the women to have the voting and contesting rights, but it is only the arbitrary action on the part of the respondents that they have completely excluded the women from enjoying their voting and contesting rights, which is contrary to the framed by-laws of the trust itself.
“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a national award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY CHANDANA SHEKAR