By LE Desk

Kochi, April 17: The Kerala High Court has observed that a woman who is a qualified hand for a job cannot be denied it on the grounds of her gender and that the job requires her to work at night.

Justice Anu Sivaraman made the observation yesterday while allowing a petition filed by Treasa Josefine of Kollam, an engineering graduate in Safety and Fire Engineering against the notification issued by the Kerala Mineral and Metals Ltd (KMML), Kollam, stipulating that only male candidates need apply for the post of a safety officer in the company.

The court found that the notification was in violation of the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India, The Hindu reported.

The court observed that “it is the bounden duty of the governments and government functionaries to take all appropriate steps to see that a woman is able to carry out the duties assigned to her at all hours, safely and conveniently. If that be so, there would be no reason for denying appointment to a qualified hand only on the ground that she is a woman and because the nature of the employment would require her to work during night hours.”

The court added that women had been engaged in several professions requiring round-the-clock labour and had proved themselves quite capable of facing the challenges of such engagement.

The Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd took the stand that according to Section 66(1)(b) of the Factories Act, 1948, women employees shall not be required or permitted to work except between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The safety officer was a round-the-clock post and that the person engaged so would have to work even at night time.

The court pointed out that a Division Bench had earlier held that Section 66(1)(b) was a beneficial provision and did not provide a bar against employment of women.

The court directed the KMML to consider the application submitted by the petitioner for appointment to the post of safety officer.

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