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SC refuses to entertain petition to include women in State Cabinets

A Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy yesterday declined to entertain a Public Interest Litigation questioning non-inclusion of women MLAs in Council of Ministers in some States. The Bench abstained from interfering, as it said that any interference of judiciary in such a matter would amount to “over stepping its own steps”.

The Court was hearing a petition filed by D.K. Aruna, MLA from the newly formed State of Telangana. She had served as the Minister for Information and Public Relations department for five years from 2009 to 2014 in un-divided state of Andhra Pradesh but was not considered by her Chief Minister.

Pointing out to the States of Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Nagaland, Mizoram and Puducherry, Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the petitioner said that these States were not following the concept of Constitutional Right of Equality in Governance.

The Petitioner had also contended that even though women had played an active role in the Telangana Statehood movement, “the first government did not care the sentiments of women of the state. The state of Telangana constituted cabinet without single women. There are women members in the assembly from the ruling party but no woman has been given opportunity even after one year of governance in the state of Telangana.”

“It is more shocking to women community that the Council of Ministers has been expanded three times but not a single woman has got a place in the state cabinet. It shows the intentional discrimination against women,” the petition further said.

Dismissing the plea, the bench observed, “Can we compel the legislatures. Can we say it is desirable for the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers to have 40 per cent of representation of women in council of ministers. It will be over stepping.”

“There are better places for asking quota for women but not in the court of law. You say it is desirable for court to go into it but we will be over stepping our steps,” it added.

Realizing that the Court was reluctant to pass an order to this effect, the Petitioner urged the Court to consider asking the state governments to look into the issue.

Read the order here.

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