The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a decades-old rule prohibiting women to work as “make-up artists” in the Indian film industry, holding it violated the constitutional right giving freedom to the fairer sex to choose her profession.
The direction holding the rule, formulated by the Cine Costume and Make-up Artist Association (CCMAA) and Film Employees Federation of Southern India (FEFSI), unconstitutional would end the convention evolved by the pre-dominant male workforce to bar women from taking up the job of make-up artists in tinsel town.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and UU Lalit also held as illegal the rule that required any artist, male or female, to have a domicile status of five years in a particular state where he or she intends to work as a make-up artist for the film industry there.
“Such a policy has no rationale nexus to the cause sought to be achieved and is unacceptable, impermissible and inconsistent with the constitutional rights guaranteed to the citizens,” the bench declared as it heard the challenge to the rule by a woman make-up artist Charu Khurana.
The petitioner contended the rule was grossly discriminatory and unconstitutional. She said the restriction was not only in Bollywood but also in other film industries. Women artists worked in secrecy and any attempt to work in open earned the wrath of their male counterparts. The women were only allowed to work as hair dressers.
Additional solicitor general LN Rao, appearing for the ministry of information and broadcasting, supported the petitioner. Rao said though all the associations asserted they allowed women to work but ground realities were different.
He admitted to instances of violence when women took the cudgels to openly rebel against the outdated rule.
National Commission for Women (NCW) came out in support of the petitioner and assailed the rule. Senior counsel Meenakshi Arora said women cannot be prevented from taking up a profession of their own choice.
The petitioners said male artistes and their association were forcibly restraining female artistes from working as the male members were insecure that actors would not employ them if women are allowed in the same job.