The law which prohibits firms from employing women in night shifts has been disposed of by the Gujarat High Court declaring section 66(1) (b) of the Factories Act as violative of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution.
Night shift for women employees from 11 pm to 5 am, which is prohibited by the law, has been permitted by the high court and it further ordered for making provisions for transportation, safety and well-being of the female employees working during the night. However, it has been made mandatory by the court that the employer fulfills certain requirements to provide safe work environment to them.
Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice Pardiwala observed that on the ground of special law for women and children, there cannot be any restriction for them. In fact, action should be taken to provide them with enough space and affirmative law in favor of women. The Petitioners Mahila Utkarsh Trust, Balaji Wafers Pvt Ltd and Sonal Naika, moved the High Court and questioned the validity of the sad provision of law, after the state government rejected its application that it should be allowed to employ women till 10 pm because it runs food processing units. The government has got powers for relaxation of the provision between 7 pm and 10 pm.
The high court took an independent view on the issue than the decisions taken earlier by other high courts. While striking down the section of the Act, the court ruled that the employer has to first provide transportation and medical facilities and keep women supervisors and then apply to the labor department for approval to run night shift for women.
The Madras and Kerala high courts had struck down the law as unconstitutional, but the Karnataka high court had held it proper.