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'Patriarchal': SC Orders Govt To Pay Rs 60 Lakh To Army Nurse Fired Over Marriage

'Rules making marriage of women employees and their domestic involvement a ground for disentitlement would be unconstitutional,' the Supreme Court said.

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PTI
Supreme Court orders compensation for Army nurse fired over marriage | Photo: PTI
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The Supreme Court ordered the Centre to pay Rs 60 lakh in dues to a military nurse who was removed from service after she got married, labelling the act as a "coarse case of gender discrimination."

The bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Dutta issued the order in response to a plea filed by Selina John, a Lieutenant in the Military Nursing Service who was relieved from duty upon her marriage in 1988. 

In 2012, she took her case to the Armed Forces Tribunal, which ruled in her favour and ordered her reinstatement. However, in 2019, the Centre challenged this decision in the Supreme Court.

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In a ruling dated February 14, the bench concluded that there was no need to overturn the tribunal's decision. A rule introduced in 1977 that allowed dismissal from the Military Nursing Service on the grounds of marriage had been withdrawn in 1995, the court noted.

"Laws and regulations based on gender-based bias are constitutionally impermissible. Rules making marriage of women employees and their domestic involvement a ground for disentitlement would be unconstitutional," the Supreme Court said.

“Acceptance of such patriarchal rule undermines human dignity, right to non-discrimination and fair treatment.” 

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The bench, however, modified the tribunal's ruling to reinstate the employee and provide back wages. Rather, it requested Rs 60 lakh as compensation from the Centre. The bench also took note of Selina's brief employment history as a nurse in a private company.

The court said the payment of compensation must be made within eight weeks of the Centre receiving the order.

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