The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently declared Government Housing Scheme, which would allot house sites to women exclusively, as unconstitutional. The court observed that “100% reservation in allotment of house sites to women household is against the total concept of equality. Failure to allot house site to transsexuals ignoring them totally would amount to depriving their right to equality.”
The Court further clarified that it is not against allotment of house site to women households. However, providing 100% reservation to women under this scheme is discriminatory to men and transgenders. In pursuit of this, Justice M. Satyanarayana Murthy directed the Government to consider the same for allotment of house sites under the ‘Navaratnaly Pedalandariki Illu” scheme.
As per clause 2 of the scheme, one House Site Patta shall be issued for an extent of 1.5 cents to an eligible household in the name of woman beneficiary of the house. This clause had been challenged in the High Court by 129 persons contending that it discriminated men and transsexual from women in allotment of house site.
The court agreed with the contentions raised by the petitioners and observed that:
Taking into consideration the hypothetical situation where a bachelor, widower with children living below poverty line, they are not entitled to claim the benefit of the scheme – Navaratnalu – Pedalandariki Illu. Does it amount to distribution of resources based on equality is a question to be decided. If the principle laid down by the Apex Court in – Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta Congress v. State of Madhya Pradesh, certainly it amounts to discrimination of eligible men and women and they will remain as houseless poor forever on account of denial of house site allotment under the scheme. Similarly, if a woman obtains divorce after allotment of house site, husband and children would remain houseless poor. These hypothetical situations were not visualized and then taken into consideration by the State while taking such policy decision. Thus, it directly amounts to depriving eligible men to claim benefit under the said scheme, which is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and contrary to the obligation that vested on the State to distribute material resources among the citizens equally as prescribed under Article 39 of the Constitution of India.
The court further highlighted that denial of allotment of house sites to transexuals is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since Article 15 speaks about men and women, but not transexuals.
In furtherance of these observations, the court issued the following directions:
The state is directed to appoint a special committee consisting of expert from Central Pollution Control Board; expert from Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; Health Expert from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to examine the issues discussed in the earlier paragraphs, within one (1) month from the date of receipt of copy of this Order to submit a report within (1) month thereafter and publish the report in two local newspapers inviting objections from the public and finalize the scheme – Navaratnalu-Pedalandariki Illy for construction of houses in the house sites keeping in view the impact on environment, health hazard etc. and increase/enhance the area. If necessary, by acquiring more site, allotted to the beneficiaries modifying the layouts keeping in view the report to be submitted by the Special Committee. Till completion of such exercise. Construction shall not be proceeded in the land allotted to beneficiaries under the scheme.
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