Bombay High Court: In a landmark judgment, a bench comprising of A.S. Oka and A.S. Chandurkar, JJ held that married daughters continue to part of parents’ family and any rule which discriminates against married women is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. In the present case, the petitioner had appealed against the rejection of her claim to the kerosene retail licence held by her deceased mother, by the Minister of Food and Civil Supplies on the ground that as a married daughter, she could not be considered a part of her mother’s family.
Under the state government rules/circulars, a “family” included the husband, wife, major son, major unmarried daughter, daughter-in-law, dependent parents, legal heir and adopted son. A divorced daughter or widow could be considered part of the family, but any licence granted would be revoked if she remarried. Mr Rahul D Motkari, the Counsel for the petitioner submitted that under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 a daughter is entitled to succeed to the estate of her mother and prayed for setting aside the said government rules which prevented her from doing so. The lawyer for the state, Mr A.I Patel defended the rules, stating that when a daughter gets married, she moves out of her family and could not be included in the expression ‘family’ of her parents. After listening to both sides of the argument, the Court came to the conclusion that the exclusion of a married daughter did not appear to be based on any logic or other justifiable criteria. Marriage of a daughter who is otherwise a legal representative of a licence holder cannot be held to her disadvantage in the matter of seeking transfer of licence in her name on the death of the licence holder. The Court struck down the discriminatory rules 22.12.1997, 16.8.2001, 10.12.2003 and 20.2.2004 to the extent they excluded a married daughter from being considered as a member of the “family” and asked the state to reconsider the petitioner’s application for grant of the kerosene retail licence. [Ranjana Murlidhar Anerao vs. State of Maharashtra, Writ Petition No. 5592 of 2009, decided on August_13, 2014]