Plea in SC seeks women members in seven state governments

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court is likely to hear on Friday a petition seeking direction to the chief ministers of seven states to consider inclusion of women legislative members in their council of ministers.

The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by D.K. Aruna, former information and public relations minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

The former minister contended that women members of Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Nagaland, Mizoram and Puduchery assemblies were suffering “gender inequality” as there was not a single woman representative in the governments of these states.

The petition, filed on behalf of Aruna by advocate Sarvan Kumar K., said absence of women members in the governments was in breach of the right to equality guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution.

The state governments’ actions in “causing gender inequality” in the composition of the council of ministers was in violation of the Constitution, the PIL said.

The petitioner, who has been a member of the earlier undivided Andhra Pradesh assembly and now the Telangana assembly for three consecutive terms, said that in the Telangana movement, “not only men, women also fought in large numbers”, but the “first government (of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao) did not care for the sentiments of women of the state”.

Pointing out that there was not a single woman in the KCR government, the petitioner contended that “there are women members in the assembly from the ruling party but no woman has been given opportunity even after one year of governance”.

Describing it as “shocking”, she said the Telangana council of ministers was expanded three times and there were three ministers who were not even members of the assembly.

Aruna said women members of the state assemblies have not been included in the government as the chief ministers lack appreciation of article 164 of the Constitution which speaks of the appointment of the chief minister and the council of ministers by the governor on the aid and advice of the chief minister.

Advocate Sarvan Kumar K. said that interestingly in 2013, when the Aam Aadmi Party won 28 seats in the Delhi assembly, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government had one woman minister and in 2015, with 67 members in the Delhi assembly it does not have a single woman minister.

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