Andhra Pradesh High Court held 100% reservation to women in govt house allotment scheme as against gender equality, and thereby, unconstitutional.
The government housing scheme ‘Navaratnalu Pedalandariki Illu, has been held unconstitutional by the Andhra Pradesh HC, as it allots house sites exclusively to women and is also contrary to the principle of gender equality. It was observed by the court, “100% reservation in allotment of house site to women household is against the total concept of equality. Failure to allot house site to transsexuals ignoring them totally would amount to depriving their right of equality.”
While directing the government to include eligibility of men and transsexual as well for allotment of house sites, Justice M. Satyanarayana Murthy said, “The Court is not against allotment of house site to women household, but it amounts to discrimination.”
This programme was launched by the Andhra Pradesh CM, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in December 2020 at Komaragiri layout of Pithampur Assembly Constituency in East Godavari District. Across the State, around 30.75 beneficiaries had been identified. He said that under 17000 YSR Jagananna layouts, 28.30 lakh, out of the total, are to be given. The remaining were going to be Township and Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDCO) flats. The clause 2 of the scheme stated that in the name of woman beneficiary of an eligible household will be issued one house site patta for an extent of 1.5 cents. Consequently, this led to 129 people approaching the HC. They impugned the clause owing to its non-conformity with the principle of gender equality.
The court agreed with the contentions of the petitioner and observed that if a hypothetical situation is taken into consideration where a bachelor or a widower with children, living below poverty line, are not getting benefitted out of the said scheme, does it amount to distribution of resources based on equality is a question to be decided. According to the principle laid down by the Apex Court in Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta Congress v. State of Madhya Pradesh, this certainly amounts to discrimination of eligible men and transsexuals. The aforementioned hypothetical situations were not taken into account while formulating the policy.
The Court observed. “Thus, it directly amounts to depriving eligible men to claim the benefit under the said scheme, which is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and contrary to the obligation that vested on the State to distribute material resources among the citizens equally as prescribed under Article 39 of the Constitution of India.”
It also said, “Denial of allotment of house sites to transsexuals is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since Article 15 speaks about men and women, but not about transsexuals, for the reason that the Constitution framers did not visualise such situation by the time of preparing Constitution of India.”
The Court shared it views on the aspect of privacy and said, “Hardly, there will not be any space to move freely in the house either to the children or to the elder people, who required some assistance at the old age.”
The Court, hence, ordered the government to appoint a committee consisting of experts from CPCB, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to examine the issues. The constructions are put on hold up until the issues are resolved.
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