QUETTA: The Balochistan High Court on Thursday ruled that female candidates could not be barred from applying for the posts of tehsildar and naib tehsildar.

“The condition whereby only male candidates were declared eligible and females were barred [from applying] for the post of ‘Tehsildar and Naib Tehsildar’ by the Balochistan Public Service Commission is illegal and unconstitutional,” declared a division bench of the BHC, directing the provincial government to fix five per cent quota for female candidates.

The verdict was announced by a division bench of the BHC comprising Justice Hashim Khan Kakar and Justice Gul Hassan Tareen.

The petition was filed by Nargis Samalani against the Revenue Department’s advertisement for the posts of tehsildar and naib tehsildar inviting applications only from male candidates.

The petitioner requested the court to declare any such rule and provision void and unconstitutional. She also requested the court to direct the provincial government to fix a quota for female candidates for these posts and also allow them to compete for the same posts on merit.

“The logical reason for non-eligibility of female candidates for the post of tehsildar does not attract a prudent mind for the simple reason that a number of females are working as superintendent of police, SHO, assistant commissioners, judges, secretaries and ministers,” the petition said.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Hashim Khan Kakar ruled that the impugned condition was tantamount to discrimination which was not permissible under the Constitution and went against the mandate of equality and safeguard against discrimination in service.

“The Balochistan government should re-advertise the posts of tehsildar and naib tehsildar and ensure that a five per cent quota only for female candidates is reserved,” the verdict said, adding that besides the reserved quota, the female candidates are also eligible to contest the posts on a merit basis.

“The vacancies reserved for the women for which qualified candidates are not available shall be carried forward and filled by women later on,” the verdict said.

In its judgment, the court also asked the government to take immediate steps to strengthen the office of the Commission on the Status of Women to eliminate all forms of discrimination in the existing laws.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022

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