The Gujarat High Court last week pulled up the Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC) for its “absolute gender insensitivity” towards a woman who was asked to travel 300 kilometers for a job interview without considering the fact that she had just delivered a child [Radhika Shankarbhai Pawar vs GPSC].
The woman, Radhika Pawar, had been shortlisted for the post of Assistant Manager (Finance and Accounts) Class II. The selection process for the said post had been initiated in the year 2020. However, the results were declared only on December 8, 2023 and Pawar was shown as one of the successful candidates.
As per the email received by Pawar, the final interviews for the successful candidates were slated for January 1 and 2, 2024. She however, informed the GPSC through an email that she was pregnant and that her delivery was due in the first week of January.
She later on delivered a child on December 31, 2023 and sent an email intimating that she would not be in a position to travel to Gandhinagar district, which was at least 300 kilometers away from her residence. She had also requested for an alternative arrangement, if possible.
However, the GPSC through an email, informed Pawar (petitioner) that she should either come on January 2 and that some other date would not be given to her.
Taking note of the grievance of the petitioner, Justice Nikhil Kariel said that the GPSC’s conduct reflected absolute gender insensitivity towards one of the most “sacred natural processes” which is giving birth to a child.
“In the considered opinion of this Court, such a reply by the GPSC reflects absolute gender insensitivity by the GPSC more particularly when it was apparent that the petitioner, who was a meritorious candidate, would not be physically capable of attending the interview on the 3rd day after delivering the child, yet without considering her request for either postponement or for providing some alternative method had not been considered,” Justice Kariel observed in a January 9 order.
The single-judge noted that the GPSC’s primary duty is to conduct selection process.
“But it could not have remained oblivious to such a kind of situation and such a reasonable request had been made it was incumbent upon the GPSC to either postpone the interview process or to provide an alternative solution like an online interview etc. if the same is permissible as per the rules,” the Court added.
The Court also noted that the selection process itself was not something that was going at a lightning speed, more particularly since it started in 2020 while the results of the examination were declared only in December 2023.
On January 9, the Court proceeded to seek the response of the GPSC in the matter.
The Court also directed the authorities to keep a post for Assistant Manager (Finance and Accounts) Class II (SEBC category) vacant until further orders.
The case will be heard next on January 19.
Advocate Brijesh Ramanuj appeared for the petitioner (Radhika Pawar).
Advocate HS Munshaw represented the GPSC.