Lack of uniformity in height norm for women for fire brigade jobs at civic bodies discriminatory: HC

The Bombay High Court has said that different municipal corporations in Maharashtra having different height criteria for women candidates applying for the post of fire brigade personnel is a discriminatory and arbitrary policy.

A division bench of Justices G S Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain, in an interim order passed last week, said there cannot be different benchmarks for the same job, and women candidates cannot suffer due to such arbitrary rules.

The court was hearing a petition filed by four women who had applied for the post of fire extinguisher/ fireman in the fire brigade of the Pune Municipal Corporation.

Their lawyer A S Rao said the petitioners were informed that they did not comply with the norm which required that women candidates have a minimum height of 162 centimeters.

As per the Maharashtra Fire Brigade Service Administration, the minimum height for women candidates is 157 centimeters, but the civic bodies of Pune, Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur prescribe a minimum height of 162 centimeters, advocate Rao told the court.

Several other municipal corporations in Maharashtra follow the 157 centimeters norm, the lawyer said.

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The high court in its order on October 26 said this was a case of “apparent discrimination”.

“There cannot be different benchmarks for different corporations. Women candidates cannot suffer due to any arbitrary policy or any arbitrary approval of any such norms by the State Government, which discriminates against women candidates who are similarly situated,” the court said.

The bench, by way of an interim order, directed the Pune Municipal Corporation to permit the petitioner women to participate in the selection process.

But their selection would be subject to the final order of the court in the case, the judges said.

The court directed the state government and Pune civic body to file their reply affidavits and posted the matter for further hearing on November 9.

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