The Bombay High Court has dismissed a public interest litigation seeking scrapping of Section 56 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which prohibits arrest or detention of women in execution of decree for payment of money, on the ground that it is violative of Articles 14 and 15 of the country’s Constitution. A division bench recently observed that the Supreme Court has laid down in a judgement that ordinarily the High Court should not entertain a writ petition by way of public interest litigation which questions the constitutional or validity of a statute or a statutory rule.
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“Applying the aforesaid principle, we see no reason to entertain the petition instituted in public interest questioning the constitutional validity of section 56 of CPC,” said a bench of Chief Justice Dr Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak. The PIL, filed by Srikrishna Godbole, an 82-year-old practicing advocate of Solapur, had challenged section 56 of C.PC saying it was ultravires the Constitution.
“We have considered the contention of petitioner’s Counsel Ms Sanjukta Dey but we are unable to agree that section 56 of CPC which prohibits arrest or detention of women in the execution of the decree for the payment of money, violates the principle of equality enshrined in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India,” said the judges.
“Taking into consideration the object of such provision, the classification between men and women is quite reasonable, and the classification has sufficient nexus with the object. Article 14 is of general application and must be read with other provisions which set out the ambit of fundamental rights,” said the bench. The judges further said that sex is a sound classification and though there can be no discrimination in general on that ground, the Constitution itself provides for special provision in case of women and children.
“That apart, whilst Article 15(1) of the Constitution provides that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, Article 15(3), in terms provides that nothing in Article 15 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children,” the bench observed.
“According to us, Section 56 of the CPC, which makes special provision for women, is clearly a provision relatable to Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India, and therefore, there is no reason to declare the same as unconstitutional,” the Judges said while dismissing the petition.
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