High Court faults RTC for barring women from posts of mechanics and ‘shramiks’
A woman underneath a bus with tool belt strapped to the hips and grease stains on the face is not a familiar site, but soon, a new set of AP State Road Transport Corporation employees will change the way we think about who should be under the vehicle, cleaning or repairing it.
The RTC workshops across Krishna Division will acquire a feminine touch with the doors being opened for women to work as mechanics and ‘shramiks’ (assistants to the mechanics). With this, women will be storming yet another male bastion as a heavy vehicle workshop is considered a ‘man’s domain’.
“Shramiks assist mechanics in garages and have physically strenuous work. They need to do servicing of the vehicles, dissemble and assemble parts, lift heavy weights, squat on the floor, work in the maintenance pit and in the night shifts. It will be a hard labour and depend on the grit and determination of the individual on how ably she handles the task,” says RTC Regional Manager G. Sudesh Kumar.
No directive has, however, come from the corporate office on the recruitment. Performance of women conductors was fairly good. “Transfers may be a problem because they are posted wherever vacancies exist and they have to leave their families behind,” he says.
This avenue has been opened for women after Justice B. Chandra Kumar of the A.P. High Court found fault with the RTC for barring women from applying for the posts of shramiks, mechanics and chargeman, stating that such exclusion violates Article 16 of the Constitution. The judge was responding to a plea by G. Anita Rani and K. Sulochana, who contended that denial of the posts to women was illegal. The Corporation’s contention that it had never recruited women for the posts as they involved heavy and strenuous work and as such it had sought exception from the Government from recruiting women to these posts and the latter had approved its plea, did not cut any ice.
Citing documents, the judge pointed to the fact that the exemption was given only for certain special circumstances and that it was not meant to be a permanent exemption and directed the RTC to allow recruitment of women to the posts within four weeks.