HC quashes Maharashtra Government Resolution which says married daughter not part of 'family'

Written by Press Trust of India | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 20 2014, 22:49pm hrs
The Bombay High Court has struck down a Maharashtra Government Resolution (GR) which excludes a married daughter from being considered as a member of the "family" for grant of retail kerosene license, saying it was violative of the Constitution.

The ruling was delivered by Justices Abhay Oka and A S Chandurkar, who were hearing a petition challenging exclusion of a married daughter from the expression "family" for being entitled to be considered for grant of retail kerosene license under Government Resolution dated February 20, 2004.

The petition was filed by Ranjana Anerao, a married daughter of the retail kerosene licencee, saying she was entitled to be a part of the family and hence should be given the licence in place of her mother who had passed away.

Her brother had contested the sister's claim saying she was married and was not part of the "family" as defined in the concerned GR.

The petitioner pointed out another GR dated February 26, 2013 which recognised the entitlement of a married daughter to seek appointment in jobs on compassionate basis subject to she and her husband furnishing an undertaking that they would take care of the family.

The petitioner also referred to another GR dated May 19, 2014, which permitted nomination of a married daughter by a freedom fighter/his widow for being entitled to benefits admissible to a freedom fighter.

The Judges observed that these GRs recognise the entitlement of a married daughter to seek benefits in the matter of compassionate appointment in state government service and benefits admissible to a freedom fighter.

"It is thus obvious that the state of Maharashtra has recognised the entitlement of a married daughter to claim compassionate appointment in state government services or seek benefits as a nominee of freedom fighter as the case may be," the judges said.

"If this be so there is no reason why a married daughter cannot be included in the expression 'family' as stated in impugned GR dated February 20, 2004," they added.

"Such non-inclusion would itself militate against the decision of the state government to recognise entitlement of a married daughter in the case of compassionate appointment or freedom fighter's benefits," the judges said.

"We have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the GR dated February 20, 2004, to the extent it excludes a married daughter from being considered as a member of the "family" of a deceased retail license holder is violative of the provisions of the Articles 14, 15 and 19(1) (g) of the Constitution of India," the Judges ruled.

The bench said that the Minister of Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, while passing the impugned order on June 17, 2009, had taken into consideration the position as obtained from impugned GR dated February 20, 2004. Hence the the petitioner's claim for being treated as a legal representative of deceased Godavaribai Jadhav has not been considered as she was treated as a married daughter.

The court, on August 13, set aside the Minister's order and the impugned GR of February 20, 2004 and referred the matter back to the authorities for a fresh consideration.

The judges also directed the petitioner and respondent to appear before the Ministry of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection on September 16, 2014. The court also noted that the revision application shall be decided within a period of three months from the date of appearance of the parties before the concerned authority.

Godavaribai Jadhav was holding a retail kerosene license issued to her under provisions of the Maharashtra Scheduled Commodities Retail Dealers' Licensing Order, 1979. She expired on April, 9, 2003, and was survived by her son and married daughter.

The daughter had initiated proceedings for inclusion of her name as legal representative and had sought issuance of license in her name.

Initially, it was issued in her name but her brother contested the claim and filed an appeal following which the Food and Civil Supplies Minister ruled that a married daughter cannot be part of the family and accordingly reversed the order. Being aggrieved, she moved the High Court.