Gender bias: Law Ministry official's plea upheld

NEW DELHI, MAY 20. The Principal Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal has directed the Union Government to consider within three months the claim of a senior woman member of the Indian Legal Service (ILS) for empanelment as Additional Secretary in the Law Ministry.

The Bench rejected the contention of the Union Government that she was not considered as she was only on deputation and that a deputationist could not be regarded a member of the ILS.

Agreeing with the applicant, the Bench observed that the right to be considered flows from constitutional provisions and the same had not been honoured by the respondents. Having been appointed on deputation, the applicant would have to be considered as a member of the ILS even if it was for a limited period of three to five years, the Bench ruled.

Aggrieved by the action of the government in not considering her for empanelment as Additional Secretary in the Law Ministry, Mrs. Sushma Jain, Joint Secretary and Legislative Counsel in the Legislative Department, moved the Tribunal contending that being a member of the ILS, she ought to have been considered for the empanelment.

Disposing of the application, the Bench comprising Mr. Ashok Agarwal, Chairman and Mr. S.A.T. Rizvi, Member, held that the applicant not only had the right to be considered but should have been actually considered by the Search-cum-Selection Committee, more so because admittedly everybody else belonging to the ILS had been considered by the committee.

Enquiries reveal that notwithstanding the Tribunal's order, the government is likely to revert Mrs. Sushma Jain to her parent department on the completion of her deputation later this month without considering her claim for empanelment as Additional Secretary. Gender discrimination is alleged to be the reason for the proposed move by the government.