The Bombay high court recently upheld the validity of section 56 of the Civil Procedure Code that prohibits arrest or detention of a woman in execution of a decree for payment of money.
The division bench of chief justice Manjula Chellur and justice MS Sonak rejected the petition filed by Solapur-based advocate Shrikrishna Godbole challenging the section’s constitutional validity on the ground that the legal provision violated the mandate of equality, equal protection of law to all and protection of discriminatory treatment enshrined in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India.
“The classification between men and women is quite reasonable, and the classification has sufficient nexus with the object (sought to be achieved by section 56),” said the bench while rejecting the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the 82-year-old. The petitioner contended that the section discriminated against men and in favour of women when it comes to execution of decrees – final orders of civil courts – ordering payment of money.
Referring to the provisions of Article 15, the bench said that sex is a sound classification and even though there can be no discrimination in general on that ground, the Constitution provides for special provision in case of women and children. They said that while Article 15(1) provides that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, Article 15(3), in terms, provides that nothing in Article 15 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children. According to them, section 56 of the Civil Procedure Code is one such special provision meant for women and therefore, there is no reason for them to declare it unconstitutional.
Besides, the bench said that there was no need to entertain the PIL also on the basis of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in 2003 that ordinarily, high courts should not entertain a writ petition by way of PILs questioning constitutional or validity of a statute or a statutory rule.