Supreme Court Rules In Favour Of Army Nurse Sacked Over Marriage, Orders Rs 60 Lakh Compensation

New Delhi: The Supreme Court ordered the Centre to pay Rs 60 lakh in dues to a military nurse who was removed from service after she married. Terminating a woman’s employment on the grounds of marriage was a “coarse case of gender discrimination” and any law based on a gender bias is “constitutionally impermissible” stated the Supreme Court.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Dutta passed the order on a petition by Selina John, who was terminated from defence service upon her marriage in 1988. At that time she held the rank of Lieutenant.

Selina approached the Armed Forces Tribunal in 2012, which ruled in her favour and ordered that she be reinstated. In 2019, the Centre appealed against the order in the Supreme Court.

In an order dated February 14, the Supreme Court bench held that the tribunal judgment does not require any interference as the rule introduced in 1977 that allowed dismissal from the Military Nursing Service on the grounds of marriage was withdrawn in 1995.

“Such rule was ex facie manifestly arbitrary, as terminating employment because the woman has got married is a coarse case of gender discrimination and inequality. Acceptance of such patriarchal rule undermines human dignity, right to non-discrimination and fair treatment. 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 bench said in the order.

The bench, however, modified the tribunal’s ruling to reinstate the employee and provide back wages. Instead, the bench directed the Centre to pay Rs 60 lakh in compensation to Selina within eight weeks of receiving the order.

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