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Legislation Protecting Women’s Rights in India – an Overview

Women’s Rights in India

Introduction To Women’s rights in India

We often treat women, children and adults are the weaker sections of society therefore, they need special attention. This article deals about the rights of women and the legal safeguards provided from our country’s legislature to this vulnerable group.

Pre-legislation Period

The Indian society is multi-religious as well as multi-lingual society. It following various cultures and traditions. But if we see them closely, then we’ll find a black hole in most of them for instance crushing of rights of females, eating up all their rights and individuality as well. During the early or medieval period, society was male-dominated. The females had very fewer rights. There was a huge gender gap in terms of education, population, exposure, etc. No one was even willing to fill this gap. There was a severe suppression of female rights but their male counterparts were enjoying their freedom.

Protection of Female Rights

There was a requirement of the upliftment of the women and above all, legislation. Currently, India has numbers of legislation regarding the protection of women and their rights. The country has even ratified the CEDAW (the convention for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women) in addition to this some more provisions safeguarding the status of females in the country are passed. Some of them are mentioned below.

Constitutional Provision

The supreme law of the land contains various provisions relating to the rights of women. These provisions are as follows:-

Fundamental Rights

  1. Article 14 – equality before the law: – It contains the general principles of equality before the law and prohibits discrimination between people.
  • Air India v. Nargesh Meerza[1]:-The Supreme Court struck down the offending regulations of Air India and Indian Airlines that provided then an air hostess would retire on attaining the age of 35 years, or on the first pregnancy, whichever was earlier.
  1. Article 15 – prohibition of discrimination: – Art. 15(1) prohibits the state from discriminating on the basis of religion, race, case, sex, or place of birth. Art 15(3) allows the state to make special provisions for women and children.
  2. Article 16 – equality of opportunity in the matters of public employment: – This Art. Provides equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment.
  • B. Muthamma v. Union of India[2]:- The Supreme Court held that a provision of the service rules requiring a female employee to obtain permission to obtain the permission of the government in writing before getting married and denying her the right to be promoted on the ground of her being married was discriminatory.

Directive Principles of State Policies

  • Art 39 (a) – It says the state to provide the equal right to adequate means of livelihood to men and women.
  • Art .39 (d) – It provides Equal pay for equal work for both men and women.

           Randhir Singh v. Union of India[3]:-SC held that equal pay for equal work is a constitutional goal and is capable of being enforced.

  • Art. 39 (e) – It tells about the health and strength of both men and women workers.
  • Art. 42– It provides for the just and humane conditions of work.

Fundamental Duties

  • Art. 51-A (e) – It says that it is the duty of the citizens to renounce practices that are derogatory to the dignity of women.

Panchayats and Municipalities

  • Art. 243-D(3), D(4), T(3) & T(4)– These articles provide for the One-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women, One-third of the total number of offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women, One-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women and the offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved for women in such manner as the State Legislature may provide respectively.

Legislations

The legislature of the country in order to provide adequate rights to the women passed many legislations. Some of the legislation are as follows:-

  1. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961-The purpose of this Act is to prevent the dowry system which is custom prevailing since a very long time and exploiting the female rights. It not only penalizes this custom but also makes the act of demanding dowry an offence.
  2. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971– This Act provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners within a given tie period. The determination of sex is punishable under this act.
  3. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 -This Act provided for equal inheritance rights to women.
  4. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005– This Act meant to provide more effective protection of the rights of women who are victims of violence of any kind.
  5. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987– The purpose of this act is to prevent the practice of Sati.
  6. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013– It provides protection to women from sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sectors.
  7. Indian Penal Code, 1860– It has provisions to protect women from dowry death, rape, kidnapping, cruelty and other offences.
  8. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:-It contains provisions for women like the obligation of a person to maintain his wife, arrest of a woman by female police, etc.

Conclusion

In conclusion, due to this legislation and the efforts of the pillars of the Indian democracy the situation of the women has lifted a bit. The conditions are better now but in order to make it the best many more efforts are needed and it can only be possible if the government along with the people irrespective of their gender give their support.

References:-

  1. Pandey J. N., Constitutional Law of India, 53rd edition, 2016.

[1] 1981 AIR 1829, 1982 SCR (1) 438.

[2] 1979 AIR 1868, 1980 SCR 91) 668.

[3] 1982 AIR 879, 1982 SCR (3) 298.

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