Charu Khurana and Others v. Union of India and Others

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 20/04/2015

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Dipak Misra and Profulla C. Pant

REFERENCE: (2015) 13 SCC 44

PARTIES

Petitioner: Charu Khurana

Respondent: Union of India

SUBJECT: This revolves around the concept of gender equality at workplace.

FACTS: The Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hairdressers Association of Mumbai was registered as a trade union under the Trade Unions Act, 1926. The Association’s by-laws prohibited women make-up artists from becoming members of the Association. The petitioner who is a makeup artist applied to the association for membership, however her application was rejected as she was a woman makeup artist. Challenging the Association’s by-laws, the petitioner filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution stating that her right to livelihood under Article 21 and right to equality under Article 14 are grossly violated by the respondents.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Indian Constitution:

  • Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  • The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
ISSUES:

1. Whether the by-laws of the Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hairdressers Association of Mumbai are constitutionally valid?

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT:

The petitioner contended that, the by-laws of the Association are gender bias and against the principle of equality enshrined under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. Also, the rejection of the membership application by the respondent Association violates right to livelihood of the petitioner.

The respondents contended that, the Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hairdressers Association of Mumbai is a private Association which do not come within the ambit of State under Article 12. Since fundamental rights are enforceable only against the “State” and not against private entities the present petition is liable to be dismissed.

Upon hearing the parties the Court held that, it is an accepted judicial principle that, fundamental rights are enforceable only against the State but in the present case the respondent Association is registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1926 and their by-laws are accepted by the Registrar of Trade Unions which is a State authority under the 1926 Act. Therefore, the by-laws were declared unconstitutional and the petitioner was said to be eligible for membership.

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