Can’t ask PM or CMs to have women ministers, says SC

The Supreme Court on Friday declined a plea seeking direction to chief ministers of seven states to consider inducting women in their council of ministers in conformity with the fundamental right to equality and against discrimination, saying it couldn’t ask the prime minister or any chief minister to do so even if it wanted.

“Can we say that it is desirable for the prime minister or a chief minister to have some women members in the council of ministers? Even if it is our desire there are better places to raise such issues,” said a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy, refusing the plea.

Appearing for the petitioner D.K.Aruna – a lawmaker in the Telangana assembly – senior counsel Meenakshi Arora told the court that she was not seeking any directions for any percentage of women representation but just urging the court to ask them to consider having women ministers.

She said that it would be in conformity with the constitution’s article 14 guaranteeing equality before law and article 15 prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Telling the court that the issue involved “concerns gender and human rights”, Arora said: “You can’t completely obfuscate the section of society” by not giving them representation in governance of the state.

Aruna, a former information and public relations minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, contended that women members of Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Nagaland, Mizoram, Puduchery assemblies were suffering “gender inequality” as there was not a single woman representative in these state governments.

“There are women members in the assembly from the ruling party but no woman has been given an opportunity even after one year of governance in the state of Telangana,” she said.

Telangana is ruled by Telangana Rashtra Samithi with K. Chandrasekhar Rao as chief minister.