SC slams Govt. for equating housewives with beggars and prisoners



The Supreme Court has slammed the Government for clubbing housewives with prostitutes, beggars and prisoners in the Census and describing them as economically non-productive workers. The court described as “totally insensitive” and “callous” the approach of the statutory authorities in equating women, who are homemakers, with such segments, saying it was indicative of a strong gender bias against women. The court asked the Parliament to revisit the Motor Vehicle Act to ensure that whenever a housewife dies, suitable compensation is awarded to the family members, to avoid gender bias.

In separate but concurrent judgements, the Bench also suggested amendments to the Matrimonial Laws to give the women their due status in the society. “This bias is shockingly prevalent in the work of Census. In the Census of 2001 it appears that those who are doing household duties like cooking, cleaning of utensils, looking after children, fetching water, collecting firewood have been categorized as non-workers and equated with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners who, according to the Census, are not engaged in economically productive work. “As a result of such categorization about 36 crores (367 million) women in India have been classified in the Census of India, 2001 as non-workers and placed in the category of beggars, prostitutes and prisoners,” the apex court observed.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly upheld the appeal of an aggrieved husband Arun Kumar Aggarwal challenging the meagre compensation awarded by the Motor Accidents Tribunal and the Allahabad High Court, for the death of his wife Renu in a road accident. Though under the Motor Vehicles Act’s structured formula, the family was entitled to a compensation of Rs. 6 lakh, the Tribunal reduced the compensation to just Rs. 2.5 lakh on the ground that Renu was only a housewife and hence the “loss of dependency” did not deserve such a high amount. The Tribunal passed the order despite the plea of the husband that his wife was engaged in part-time painting and earning Rs 50,000 per month and the family had suffered immense loss of emotional support, love and affection of the deceased.

The High Court concurred with the Tribunal’s findings, upon which the husband appealed in the apex court. Disagreeing with the two courts’ view, the Bench said, “the gratuitous services rendered by wife with true love and affection to the children and her husband and managing the household affairs cannot be equated with the services rendered by others.“A wife/mother does not work by the clock. She is in constant attendance of the family throughout the day and night unless she is employed and is required to attend the employer’s work for particular hours. She takes care of all the requirements of husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes, etc. She teaches small children and provides invaluable guidance to them for their future life,” the apex court said.

2 Responses

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  1. Digvijay Singh said, on July 25, 2010 at 09:51

    it was perfectly required what the Hon’ble Supreme Court has done while slamming the Government for equating the housewives with the Non-Productive category of society. considering the housewives as non-productive social element is nothing but lack of common sense and responsibility and is illogical. such statements/observation must be regarded as something made by the person who consider the housewives as only a home piece and non-social and non-productive things. every one must bear in mind that conducting the household chores and the management of the house is no lesser than doing a service or business outside. the man/husband doing the service or business outside can never do it the way he does unless he feels the comfort at home after returning from such services and the business and thats possible only when the back home is proper order and which further is the job of the housewives only and of no other person or persons. a person who does the outside work and again manages the household works after return gives lesser productivity compared to those having housewives to manage the affairs of the back home. the husband and the housewife is like the two wheels of the cycle which run it properly and neither of them can do it alone unless it is a circus…
    so those who think that housewives are nothing but non-productive element of the society, are no lesser than the joker of that circus.

  2. ravi ram said, on May 29, 2012 at 12:05

    please dont demean the jokers, even they earn by entertaining people..rather people making such comments must be sent to mental asylum

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