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No harm in extra age relaxation for women job seekers: LHC

No harm in extra age relaxation for women job seekers: LHC

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has ruled that offering extra age relaxation to female candidates for government jobs does not infringe fundamental rights of men.

Dismissing a petition against three-year additional relaxation in age given to female candidates compared to male candidates for posts of educators in Okara district, the court observes, “We are living in a male-dominated society full of considerable disparity, and in some cases incompleteness of institutional provisions (even at primary level) relates directly to difficulties of physical access which adversely affect girls more than boys.”

It says the widespread operation of patriarchal systems of social organisations, customary early marriage, heavier domestic and subsistence duties of females, a generally lower regard for the value of female life, adversely affect the participation of girls and women in formal education.

The influence of these factors can only be overcome by more sophisticated and multivariate spatial analysis of educational needs and the planning and implementation of integrated steps to encourage such women, who face all such practical issues and come out to compete with men on merit, the court maintains.

The court rebuffs an argument of the petitioner that giving additional age relaxation to women in employment violates Article 27(1) of the Constitution rather terms it a step to promote full participation of women in national life as contemplated under Article 34, which provides that steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all part of national life.

“Thus, the condition imposed in the job advertisement is not meant to infringe any of the constitutional guarantees to men, rather this is a step towards protection and encouragement of deprived limb of our society,” Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan concludes his verdict.

The petition filed by Shaukat Ali Hayat states that the age limit for male candidates was set as 20 to 35 years, whereas, for female candidates the age limit was prescribed as 20 to 38 years.

Counsel for the petitioner pleaded that all citizens are equal under the Constitution and no discrimination on the basis of gender can be carried out by the government. He asked the court to strike down the impugned condition for being violative to fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Punjab government through its counsel opposed the petition saying it is fully empowered to lay a policy and by doing so, no rights of petitioner or others are infringed.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2015

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