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Married Daughters Are Part Of Family Too: Uttarakhand HC’s Verdict A Victory For Gender Equality

Married daughters are always family members, just like married sons and not to be discriminated against on such grounds, ruled the Uttarakhand High Court in a recent progressive judgement. 

Married daughters are always family members, just like married sons and not to be discriminated against on such grounds, ruled the Uttarakhand High Court in a recent progressive judgement. 

In an important step towards gender equality, the Uttarakhand High Court has ruled that a married daughter should be treated as part of her family and allowed the opportunity of being considered for ‘compassionate appointment’ (given to a family member when a government servant dies while in service).

The judgement further read that just as a son continues to be the son of a deceased government servant, both before and after marriage, so does the daughter. The fact that she is married does not mean that she ceases to be the daughter of the deceased government servant.

The court ruled that both the daughter and the son should be viewed on the same footing when considering the case for compassionate appointment of a government servant who died in harness (while actively working, before completing the tenure). The court said that it was difficult to accept the notion of ‘dependent married sons’ and exclude the idea of ‘dependent married daughters.’

With changing times, the present-day social and financial realities are a lot different from what they were decades ago. In earlier rulings dating back to 1974 and 1975, while classifying a ‘family’, it was decided to exclude ‘married daughters’ as they were dependent on their husbands and in-laws. However, in the present-day context, there are instances of many women being abandoned by their husbands or divorced or not being provided maintenance.

There are many instances of husbands and in-laws harassing wives who then are forced to return to the sanctuary of their maternal homes. Such cases where women are being left in limbo without any support and acceptance from their husbands or in-laws, have seen an alarming rise in our society. Just because a woman gets married, it does not mean that she can never become dependent on her natal family. Denying compassionate appointment to the married daughter on this ground is therefore not justified.

The ruling also reaffirms that even if a daughter is not deserted by her in-laws, she is still able to claim her natal family and does not turn to it only as a final resort.

The court further observed that while a ‘married daughter’ has till now been excluded from compassionate appointment, a ‘married son’ has been allowed to be considered for such cases. This amounts to gender discrimination. Excluding a ‘married daughter’ in the definition of a ‘family’ even though she was dependent on the government servant at the time of his death, is gender discrimination and violates fundamental rights.

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This is a momentous step towards bridging the existing gender divide in our society. Not only does compassionate appointment save a family from financial destitution, but also ensures that married daughters gain their rightful place in the family and are treated as equal to the sons of the family.

Image via Unsplash

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Kanupriya Kumar

I have worked in the financial sector as a banking executive and in the field of primary education of children. I love reading, writing, making friends, and playing with my kids. I am super interested read more...

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