Bombay HC questions mill rule restricting women to work after 60
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked the Labour Commissioner to have a re-look at a standing order of Podar Textile Mill which allows efficient male workers to work for three years post-retirement, while depriving the same benefit to their female counterparts.
The court was of the view that after approval of the impugned standing order 20-A by the Labour Commissioner here in 1958, much water has flown thereafter -- both in terms of studies of longevity, physical fitness of employees generally and also the constitutional jurisprudence about the right of equality of women under Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution.
"It would, therefore, be in the fitness of things to direct the Commissioner of Labour to have a re-look into the standing order 20-A and submit a report to this court within two months from today, clearly opining whether there is justification for not giving benefits of Standing Order 20-A to women operatives in textile mills, who continue to be efficient up to age of 63 years," a bench ruled recently.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta were hearing the plea of Laxmi Patil, a Podar Mill worker, who had challenged the constitutional validity of standing order 20-A as she was made to retire at 60 and not given the benefit of continuing in service till 63 years like her male colleagues.
The impugned section 20-A provides that an operative (skilled worker in a manufacturing industry) shall retire from service on attaining age of 60 years, but a male operative shall be retained in service if he continues to be efficient up to the age of 63 years, provided that when retrenchment becomes necessary, a person who has completed 60 years may be retired in preference to younger men.
Directing the Labour Commissioner to have a re-look at the impugned standing order, the court, however, asked him to give a personal hearing to the petitioner as well as the union representatives and the mill management.