Upturning state rules that restrain women from working in foreign liquor retail shops, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday permitted the employment of women in such shops. The High Court termed the state's rules as "unsustainable" and "violative of the Constitution" in this significant decision.
Such orders and rules "are violative of Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution and are therefore unsustainable", the court said in a recent order about the state government's Foreign Liquor Rules as well as a government order that women cannot be engaged to work in foreign liquor shops. Justice Anu Sivaraman issued the order while disposing of a batch of writ petitions challenging constitutional validity of Clause No 37 of Rule 7 contained in Chapter VI of the Kerala Abkari Shops Disposal Rules, 2002 and Licence Condition No 36 of Foreign Liquor Rules to the effect that no women shall be employed in any capacity in a toddy or foreign liquor shop. In their petition, the women said they had participated in the selection and had been included in the ranked list for appointment to the post of peon/helper in the Kerala State Beverages (Manufacturing & Marketing) Corporation Ltd. However, citing the rules and government order they were not given appointment in the vacancies which arose in the shops under the corporation. A notification issued by the Kerala Public Service Commission had also stated that women will not be entitled to appointment in shop vacancies. The court directed the Kerala Public Service Commission to advise the petitioners for appointment to the post of peon/ helper in the corporation from the ranked list immediately, in view of the fact that the persons who are lower down in the ranked list have already been appointed. "This shall be done within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgement. The petitioners shall be accommodated against the available vacancies without reference to whether such vacancies are in shops or otherwise. "If no such vacancies are available to accommodate the petitioners, they shall be accommodated against the supernumerary vacancies and adjusted against the next arising vacancies," the court ruled. It also directed Kerala State Beverages Corporation, Kerala Public Service Commission and the state government to take steps to re-work the appointments made from the ranked list in accordance with the judgement at the earliest, in accordance with law. "In view of the fact that all vacancies have already been reported to the PSC, the 3rd respondent (the PSC) shall also re-work the ranked list and pass orders accordingly within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgement," the high court said.