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The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for employing women as bartenders in Delhi hotels.

A bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Harjit Singh Bedi upheld the Delhi High Court judgement quashing the part of Section 30 of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, which is applicable in Delhi also, which prohibited employment of any women in hotels or restaurants where liquor or intoxicating drugs are consumed by the public.

The bench in their judgement noted, "on the instant case the end result is an invidious discrimination perpetuating sexual differences. Young men who take a degree or diploma in hotel management into service enter at the age of 22 or 23 years. It, thus, cannot prohibit employment of men below 25 years. Such a restriction keeping in view a citizen's rights to be considered for employment, which is a facet of rights to livelihood, do not stand judicial scrutiny.

For the reasons aforementioned, we do not find any infirmity in the impugned decision of the High Court. The appeal is accordingly dismissed . Cross appeal filed by the respondents is allowed. " The Delhi High Court had declared Section 30 of the act to be ultra vires Articles 19(1)(g), 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India to the extent, it prohibits employment of any women in any part of such premises, in which liquor or intoxicating drugs are consumed by the public.

The petitioner Anuj Garg had challenged the High Court order on the grounds that employment of young women as bartenders may create sometimes law and order problems highlighting vulnerability of women while workingin bars and cited the examples of Jessica Lal and BMW cases which were result of sale and consumption of liquor by young men below 25 years.

The apex court, however, rejected the contentions and ruled "when the restrictions were in force, they could not prevent such occurrences. If the restrictions gs , some such incidents may again happen. But only on pre-supposition that there is a possibility of some incidents happening, we cannot declare a law intra vires which is exfacie ultra vires.

We further more deprecate this practice of the government of Delhi to raise a contention of aforementioned nature which had not only been raised before the High Court but in a appeal filed by a few citizens maintainability whereof is in question". The appeal was filed by Anuj Garg and others against the High Court judgement dated January 12, 2006. Hotel Association of India and others also filed cross appeals.

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