Rights of Women under Indian laws

“It is not gender which is destroying our culture…. it is our interpretations of culture which has destroyed gender equality.”

– A Cambodian civil society group


It’s has been 74 years of Independence since and there have been many debates regarding women rights and equality debates are not just limited to the Constitutional assembly but are very debatable and sensitive issues in our day to day conversations like in college groups, in your friend’s circle and at your workplace, we do talk about these things maybe sometimes this casual conversation turns into arguments. Sometimes these issues are raised in siblings fights and couple fights where the dominant sex ( refers to Men’s as per society norms or culture) starts to compare you in the Gender or Sex. Why just women can’t accept the fact that Men’s and Women’s are different,  women’s can’t do some things that men’s do. Women’s do understand that they are made differently from men’s in terms of physical strength, biologically and to some extent psychological ( decision making,  dealing style with problems, etc). But differences in this above aspect can’t be the reason for discrimination between men’s and women’s. By stating Equality and Rights,  women’s are talking about equal opportunity to get work, to live with dignity and to be looked at without any prejudice and unfairness. Like Cerebral Opportunity.

There has been a great evolution among women rights. And Indian lawmakers and judiciary have a significant role in providing Gender Equality.  There are many welfares and government schemes for women rights and equality. A lot of things gets changed from pre-independence. Now in the patriarchal mindset society, people are understanding the meaning of Gender Equality to some extent but still, we are lacking to achieve that mindset in each society. It will take time to achieve a goal as we are a developing country with diverse cultures and traditions. Sometimes this diversity becomes hinders in achieving gender equality as being a country of different religions some personal laws are sometimes inconsistent with fundamental rights of part 3 of the Constitution Two of the most prominent judgments of the Supreme court Sabarimala case, the and Triple Talaq case has brought an end to the century-old to practice of curtailing of women rights, the court recognized customs within the definition of ‘law’ as per Article 13(3)(a) of the Constitution but declared the practices void as per Article 13(1), which were found in derogation of Fundamental Rights. Justice Nariman and Justice U.U. Lalit in the Triple Talaq case applied the test for laws in force to recognize the custom of Triple Talaq as falling within Article 13(3)(a), they held it unconstitutional on the narrower ground of it being “manifestly arbitrary” as against Article 14.

Right to Equality                                             

  • Article 14 which have two clauses

14(1)  – Equality before the law

14(2) – Equality protection of law like should be treated as alike.  And given a concept of intelligence differential and rational nexus. Discrimination can be based on reasonable ground and equity.

  • Article 15

15(1) state shall not discriminate on the ground of sex, religion, place of birth, race and caste.

15(3) special provisions for women and children

As there are no such things as absolute equality like should be treated as alike according to article 14 if discrimination is happening on the valid ground or relevant things. That protection and discrimination will be considered valid discrimination.

Case law

Yusuf Abdul Aziz v State of Bombay. 1954 AIR 321

Through this case, the court has removed gender bias from the penal statute and also it declared that the husband is no longer the master of his wife.

Article 15(3) enables the government to make special provisions for women and children. It was this Article 15(3) which was debated in this case and the court unanimously through Vivian Bose J declared that the exemption provided by this section is safeguarded by Article 15(3) of the Constitution.

Like this, the Supreme Court observed section 497 of IPC is not ultra vires under Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution on the ground that it is only the man, who is held liable for adultery and not the wife with whom adultery is committed. The wife is saved from the purview of the section and is not punished as an abetter. The Court further observed that sex is a reasonable and sound classification accepted by the constitution, which provides that the State can make special provisions for women and children vide article 15(3) of the constitution.

  • Article 16

Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment or opportunity to any office under state and prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex

Case law

. B. Muthamma v. Union of India. AIR 1868

Supreme Court was called out to test the validity of the regulations which enumerated the conditions of service of IFS officers, the Indian Foreign Service (Conduct and Discipline) Rules, 1961. Every female employee was bound by it to obtain permission from the public authorities and tender her resignation if her marriage was to be solemnized.

The government, which is the final deciding authority, shall determine if the future family commitments of the employee shall handicap her work efficiency or not. It was violative of the equality provisions vide Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. The rule was reversed in totality by SC as it dominated the weaker sex. It sent out a clear message gender discrimination tort condition of work.

  • Article 19

Freedom of speech and expression and freedom to practice any profession or to carry out any occupation, trade or business

  • Article 21

Protection of life and personal liberty.

Right to privacy

Case law

Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration (2009) 14 SCR 989

The Supreme Court noted that every woman has a right to make reproductive choices, i.e. to decide whether to carry a pregnancy in full-term or to abort the foetus. She is free to participate in sexual activity or even refuse it. This decision added a new dimension of ‘bodily to Article 21 of the Constitution.

  • Article 300 A

Right to property

Case law

Vineet Sharma vs Rakesh Sharma. (2020) 9 SCC 1

The judiciary continues to take progressive steps to women-friendly session law more women-friendly. In a recent landmark decision, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that daughters and sons have equal coparcenary rights in a Hindu undivided family. The decision clarifies that coparcenary rights are acquired by daughters on their birth and that fathers need not have been alive when the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act was passed.

Government Schemes for Women Empowerment.

1. Nari Shakti Puruskars

Nari Shakti Puruskars The Nari Shakti Puruskars are national-level awards recognizing the efforts made by women and institutions in rendering distinguished services for the cause of women, especially vulnerable and marginalized women. The awards are presented by the President of India every year on 8 March, International Women’s Day.


STEP The Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) Scheme aims to provide skills that give employability to women and to provide competencies and skills that enable women to become self-employed/ entrepreneurs. A particular project will be for a duration of up to 5 years depending upon the nature, kind of activities and the number of beneficiaries to be undertaken. Sectors include Agriculture, Horticulture, Food Processing, Handlooms, Tailoring, Stitching, Embroidery, Zari etc, Handicrafts, Computer & IT enable services along with soft skills and skills for the workplace such as spoken English, Gems & Jewellery, etc

3. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao

This is a social campaign aimed at eradication of female foeticide and raising awareness on welfare services intended for young Indian girls.

The “Save the Girl Child” movement was launched on 22 January 2015, it is a joint initiative run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao – The scheme was launched with initial funding of Rs 100 crores. It mainly targets the clusters in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi and Haryana.

In India, the child gender ratio in the age group of 0 – 6 years stood at 931 girls for 1000 boys and it dropped to 918 girls for every 1000 boys in 2011. Sex-selective abortion or female foeticide in India has led to a sharp decline in the ratio of girls born in contrast to the boys in some states in the country. The wide gap in child gender ratio was first noted in 1991 when the national census data was released and it turned out to be a worsening problem after the release of 2001 national census data.

To bridge the growing gap between the birth of girl and boy infants, the government of India has taken up an initiative to promote Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and many programmes have been organized to promote ‘Save Girl Child’ and to ‘Educate Girl Child’, since January 2015. The campaign has also received support from the Indian Medical Association.

Women Rights

1. Women have the right to equal pay

According to the provisions listed under the Equal Remuneration Act, one cannot be discriminated against based on sex when it comes to salary, pay or wages. Working women have the right to draw an equal salary, as compared to men.

2. Women have the right against workplace harassment

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act gives a female the right to file a complaint against any kind of sexual harassment at her place of work.

3. Women have a right against domestic violence

Section 498 of the Indian Constitution looks to protect a wife, female live-in partner or a woman living in a household like a mother or a sister from domestic violence (including verbal, economic, emotional and sexual) at the hands of a husband, male live-in partner or relatives.

The accused shall be punished with non-bailable imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine.

4. Female sexual assault victims have the right to keep their identities anonymous

To ensure that her privacy is protected, a woman who has been sexually assaulted may record her statement alone before the district magistrate when the case is under trial, or in the presence of a female police officer.

5. Women have the right to get free legal aid

Under the Legal Services Authorities Act, female rape victims have the right to get free legal aid or help from the Legal Services Authority who has to arrange a lawyer for them.

6. Women have the right to register virtual complaints

The law gives women the provision for filing virtual complaints via e-mail, or writing their complaint and sending it to a police station from a registered postal address.

Further, the SHO sends a police constable to her place to record her complaint.

This is in case a woman is not in a position to physically go to a police station and file a complaint.

7. Women have a right to Zero FIR

An FIR that can be filed at any police station irrespective of the location where the incident occurred or a specific jurisdiction it comes under, the Zero FIR can later be moved to the Police Station in whose jurisdiction the case falls.

This ruling was passed by the Supreme Court to save the victim’s time and prevent an offender from getting away scot-free.


Achieving gender equality can be very difficult because of the traditional beliefs of society and the rigid norms of society. Being a diverse cultural country many religious practices contradict fundamental rights.  But gender equality can be solved to some extent if each one of us initiates to contribute to this evolution as it paramount importance for the welfare of any state. Lack of awareness among women, lack of safety and security for a better quality of life and poor implications of laws.

But changes have been seen because of the landmark judgement passed by the apex court of law and amendment made by the legislature and undertakings of the new acts for the protection of women and active participation by NGOs, activists and Advocates for raising their voices against gender intolerance by reaching out to women and making them about their rights and to use it for social justice.





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