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Pregnancy constraints no hindrance to right to equal job opportunity, rules Patna HC

The court has directed the Central Selection Board (Constable Appointment) to hold again the physical test for aspirants for the post of women jail warder, who could not appear in an earlier test, owing to pregnancy.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2017 19:48 IST
Prashant Pratap
Prashant Pratap
Hindustan Times, Patna
Patna HC ruling,Justice Jyoti Saran,Women jail warders
A Patna high court judgement has done much to further the cause of job rights of pregnant women. (HT representative image)

In a potentially course-setting judgement, the Patna high court, has held that a woman’s inability to appear for a physical evaluation test owing to her pregnancy, should not compromise her right to equal opportunity in employment.

In an order passed on Thursday, the court has directed the Central Selection Board (Constable Appointment) to hold again the physical test for aspirants for the post of women jail warder, who could not appear in an earlier physical test, because they were in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

Justice Jyoti Saran passed the order on a bunch of writ applications filed by Ishika Raj and others, who qualified in the written examination for the post of Jail Warder but their advance stages of pregnancy prevented them from appearing in the physical examination conducted by the Central Selection Board (Constable Appointment).

The single judge HC bench also asked the state authorities to formulate guidelines for pregnant women during the course of selection process so that they were not deprived of appearing in physical test merely because of their physical condition at the time.

In his voluminous judgement, Justice Saran considered and referred to many apex court rulings, concerned constitutional provisions relating to equal opportunity of employment, right to life as well as the maternity benefit act.

“Motherhood is a step to maintain the social order and the society is indebted for this magnificent role of women. This is the pious right recognized under Article 21 (Right to Life) of the constitution”, he said, adding, once a woman candidate appeared in a selection process, starting from applying in response to an advertisement, she was entitled to all the benefits for secured motherhood, both pre as well as post maternity.

The Central Selection Board (Constable Appointment), Bihar, Patna, on March 3, 2016, invited application for appointment to the 2,649 posts of Jail Warders across the state of Bihar.

The petitioners had applied for and appeared in the written test which was held on September 18, 2016 and qualified in it. Thereafter, different dates in January this year were fixed for their appearance in the subsequent physical evaluation test.

But on account of their advanced stages of pregnancy, they could not appear in the physical examination. As such, they moved the high court, praying for shifting of date for physical test till after the delivery of the child and when they became medically fit to appear in physical tests.

Bringing on record medical documents that showed doctors had advised them to rest at the time of physical examination, the petitioners contended undergoing a physical evaluation test when they were in an advanced stage of pregnancy would have endangered the child in their womb.

Citing Article 21 of the Constitution, the petitioners said not extending the date of physical evaluation test was tantamount to depriving them from their human and constitutional rights. They also stated there was no mention of physical test dates in the advertisement and there was a long gap between the publication of the advertisement and the physical test.

The selection board had stated in the court that there was no provision in its rules to give another opportunity for physical test to pregnant candidates and the board has already published the result of 2190 jail warders in February this year.

First Published: Aug 03, 2017 19:48 IST