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Komal Panwar

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Delhi HC Questions The Centre On Barring Married Women From JAG, Says ‘It’s Hostile Discrimination.’

  • IWB Post
  •  August 11, 2017


Update: Married women are prohibited from being recruited as law graduates into the Judge Advocate General (JAG).

Earlier this year, Lawyer Kush Kalra, had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court to seek a direction to the Centre for recruitment of married women law graduates in the JAG department.

The petitioner has alleged that “this discrimination on grounds of gender is violative of the fundamental right of equality before the law, right not to be discriminated on the ground of sex, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, fundamental right to practice any profession and occupation and human rights of the women”.

During the hearing of this PIL by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, the bench stated, “Today, women are fighter pilots and you say they (married women) are not fit for the JAG. What is the logic behind ousting married women? That is hostile discrimination. It is 100 per cent discrimination.” 

The bench also questioned the logic of the Government behind “ousting married women” from the JAG.

The Centre also had to face tough questions on another PIL which, too, was filed by Lawyer Kush Kalra,  claiming that only gainfully employed men were recruited in the Territorial Army (TA), the second line of defence after the regular Army.

“Why are women not fit for the Territorial Army,” the court asked the Central Government standing counsel, Amit Mahajan, also the speaker for the Army.  said women were not recruited in the infantry of the TA, but other than that there was no bar.

Amit replied that the women were not recruited in the infantry of the TA, “but other than that there was no bar.”

“Which are the positions in which women are working in the Territorial Army?” the bench further questioned Centre’s standing counsel to which he couldn’t answer.

The court has now directed the Army to file written submissions, in both the matters, till the next date of hearing, i.e., on August 24, 2017.

(You may also read our previous conversation with the Lawyer Kush Kalra after he had filed the PILs.)

Kush holds a spot in the Limca Book of Records for writing 9 books about the law in a year, has also received a National Youth Award.

He said, “When I found out that married women from the JAG are being barred, I got in touch with a few prominent lawyers to seek help. I always got the same response: Why do you involve yourself into this? This argument means nothing. Finally, Jyotika Kalra, Advocate on record supported me for the cause, and Charu Khurana filed the petition on my behalf.”

IWB: Why are women not permitted to join these forces?

Kush: Because they know that married women have a curfew and they ask for maternity leaves. 

IWB: What happens if a woman gets married while employed with the JAG?

Kush: She is kept under a training period for a year, and then if she decides to get married, she’s simply fired.

At a large scale, we talk about ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhaao,’ so many discussions with women are held on a regular basis. What is all of this for? In my opinion, inequality has caused the crimes against women to occur. Equality in our country will show a significant change in our economy, too.

IWB: What drove you to take a step against it?

Kush: Daily News. When I read about crimes, I cringe. Every time I meet a female friend, her curfew is decided by the darkness. Even after 67 years of independence, women in our country cannot travel alone.

Also, I realized that it is a huge violation of the Constitution which does not differentiate amongst men and women by their gender. I contacted many women to support me, a lot of them also wanted to be a part of the JAG but were afraid of getting their careers ruined, and hence, couldn’t take action.

IWB: How soon do you expect an action to be taken?

Kush: I really can’t say, but it will definitely take time.

IWB: It is not your first stand for the cause, isn’t it?

Kush: In the Delhi Metro, there is no provision for throwing trash or water consumption. At a stage, where we are talking about ‘Swachh Bharat,’ how can we not have dustbins in our metros? How are there borewells dug at Metro stations? Extraction of ground water is an offense. Well, let’s see, where this case leads.

(The interview part of the article was first published on April 26, 2017.)

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