Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Married daughter part of parents' family: Bombay HC

 A married daughter does not stop being a part of her parents' family, the Bombay high court has ruled in a landmark order.

The state's rules that discriminate against a married daughter and exclude her from the purview of the expression "family" were unconstitutional and infringed on fundamental rights, ruled a division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and A S Chandurkar in a case of transfer of a kerosene retail licence.

Ranjana Anerao had challenged a government decision in 2007 rejecting her claim to the retail licence held by her deceased mother. The minister for food and civil supplies had said that as a married daughter, she could not be considered a part of her mother's family.

"Gender discrimination is prohibited (by) the Constitution," said the judges. "The government resolution of 2004 to the extent it excludes a married daughter from being considered a member of the family of a retail licence holder is discriminatory and violative of the Constitution."

The state government rules say "family" includes the husband, wife, major son, major unmarried daughter, daughter-in-law, dependent parents, legal heir and adopted son.

A divorced daughter could be considered part of the family, but any licence granted would be revoked if she remarried.

The state's lawyers defended the rule, saying that when a daughter gets married, she moves out of her family and could not be included in the expression "family" of her parents.

The high court pointed out that according to the state's rules, a major daughter before her marriage would be eligible to be treated as a member of the family of her parents who have been granted a retail licence. Similarly, a divorced daughter, too, would fall within the definition of family. But even if a married daughter is supporting her parents in their old age, she would be excluded from being considered for a retail licence held by them when they pass away.

"This exclusion of a married daughter does not appear to be based on any logic or other justifiable criteria. Marriage of a daughter who is otherwise a legal representative of a licence holder cannot be held to her disadvantage in the matter of seeking transfer of licence in her name on the death of the licence holder," said the judges.

The high court struck down the discriminatory rules and asked the state to reconsider Anerao's application for grant of the kerosene retail licence. The court's order is likely to have an impact on other rules which discriminate against a married daughter, and her entitlement to benefits that come from her parents' family.

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