Sunday, July 25, 2010

SC slams govt for clubbing hookers and housewives

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has slammed the government for clubbing housewives with prostitutes, beggars and prisoners in the Census as an economically non-productive category, saying it betrays the “totally insensitive’’ and “callous’’ approach of statutory authorities.

The stinging observation came from Justice A K Ganguly, who, along with Justice G S Singhvi, agreed to hike the compensation awarded to a man whose wife had died in an accident.

“This bias is shockingly prevalent in the work of the 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 categorised as nonworkers and equated with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners who, according to the Census, are not engaged in economically productive work,’’ Justice Ganguly said.

Surprisingly, the description of home-makers as part of the non-productive category had so far gone unnoticed. This flies in the face of the recognition that household chores performed by home-makers is of considerable economic value. In fact, there is a demand to compute the value of services provided by home-makers.

‘Amend motor act to respect housewives’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has frowned upon the low compensation awarded to the family of Renu Agarwal after her death in a road accident, on the grounds that as a housewife, she had no income. Under the Census, housewives are clubbed with prostitutes, beggars and prisoners as economically nonproductive. The bench felt that the time had come for Parliament to realise the invaluable service rendered by housewives and amend the Motor Vehicle Act to give them their due.

Both judges in the bench agreed the compensation paid by a tribunal (Rs 2.40 lakh) to Arun Agarwal for the death of his wife Renu was too low as under Act, the family was entitled to Rs 6 lakh. The Allahabad HC had upheld the tribunal’s award, and the family then moved the apex court.

Terming the work of housewives as invaluable for the family, 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 can’t 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. 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 bench said.


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