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A Job Exam Mandated 'Chest Measurement' for Women—Here's What Happened in Court

Three women candidates approached the Rajasthan High Court regarding the mandate. Here's all you need to know.

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Three women candidates, who had taken the forest guard exam, approached the Rajasthan High Court after they were not given the job. Their contention was simple —  they had reportedly cleared the Physical Efficiency Test during the recruitment process but were disqualified for not meeting the “chest measurement norms.”

When the High Court heard their plea, it  was “unable to come over the shock” and could not help but observe that the ’’act of setting up chest measurement to be a criterion, particularly for female candidates, is absolutely arbitrary, rather outrageous to say the least.”

What is the case about? What else did the High Court say in its verdict delivered on 10 August? And were the women finally recruited after the verdict? We answer.

A Job Exam Mandated 'Chest Measurement' for Women—Here's What Happened in Court

  1. 1. What the Candidates Argued

    Following a recruitment notification dated 11 November 2020, the three women applied for the forest guard position. 

    All of  them cleared the written test but, even though they passed the Physical efficiency test,  they did not make it through the Physical Standard Test which mandated that their chest size meet the prescribed requirements. 

    They then moved the High Court and asserted that their chest measurements are actually more than the mandate.

    Expand
  2. 2. And What Did The High Court Do?

    Justice Dinesh Mehta, who heard the petitioners’ case, concluded on 10 August,  that since the recruitment process is over and all candidates (including the petitioners) have subjected themselves to the test), the High Court “would not disturb the recruitment which has taken place.” 

    He, however, did direct the Chief Secretary; Secretary of the Forest Department and the Secretary of the Department of Personnel, Government of Rajasthan to reconsider the chest size parameter. 

    While doing so, he also made several strong observations about how the rule in question was an “affront” to a woman’s dignity and “right of privacy guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”

    Expand
  3. 3. Is Chest Measurement The Litmus Test of Lung Capacity? What HC Said

    The High Court pointed out that the size and expansion of a female candidate's chest may not necessarily indicate their physical fitness or lung capacity. Even if it did, measuring such aspects would invade a woman's privacy and  aside from being illogical, imposing this requirement damages a woman's dignity, control over her body, and mental well-being.

    “The size of the chest and its expansion in the case of a female candidate may not necessarily be a pointer of physical fitness and litmus test of lungs’ capacity. Even if it be so, such measurement impinges upon or intrudes on the privacy of a female. Apart from being irrational, prescribing such criterion disrupts the dignity, bodily autonomy and mental integrity of a woman,” the court said, according to the order.

    Three women candidates approached the Rajasthan High Court regarding the mandate. Here's all you need to know.

    It added that the decision to use chest measurement as a requirement especially for women, significantly undermines a woman's dignity and her right to privacy, which are protected by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

    "This Court cannot, but refrain from observing that the respondents’ act of setting up chest measurement to be a criterion, particularly for female candidates, is absolutely arbitrary, rather outrageous to say the least. It is a clear dent on a lady’s dignity and right of privacy guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India," the court said.

    Three women candidates approached the Rajasthan High Court regarding the mandate. Here's all you need to know.

    The method being used, aside from lacking any scientific basis, is degrading, disrespectful, and an insult to a woman's dignity, the court said,  adding that given that candidates already need to pass a Physical Efficiency Test, which includes tasks like a 1.35-meter standing broad jump and throwing a 4 kg shot put 4.5 meters, the demand for a minimum chest circumference appears to be unreasonable and unnecessary.

    "One does not see any rhyme or reason behind the criterion in question, particularly for female candidates," the Court  added as it parted with the order.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What the Candidates Argued

Following a recruitment notification dated 11 November 2020, the three women applied for the forest guard position. 

All of  them cleared the written test but, even though they passed the Physical efficiency test,  they did not make it through the Physical Standard Test which mandated that their chest size meet the prescribed requirements. 

They then moved the High Court and asserted that their chest measurements are actually more than the mandate.

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And What Did The High Court Do?

Justice Dinesh Mehta, who heard the petitioners’ case, concluded on 10 August,  that since the recruitment process is over and all candidates (including the petitioners) have subjected themselves to the test), the High Court “would not disturb the recruitment which has taken place.” 

He, however, did direct the Chief Secretary; Secretary of the Forest Department and the Secretary of the Department of Personnel, Government of Rajasthan to reconsider the chest size parameter. 

While doing so, he also made several strong observations about how the rule in question was an “affront” to a woman’s dignity and “right of privacy guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Is Chest Measurement The Litmus Test of Lung Capacity? What HC Said

The High Court pointed out that the size and expansion of a female candidate's chest may not necessarily indicate their physical fitness or lung capacity. Even if it did, measuring such aspects would invade a woman's privacy and  aside from being illogical, imposing this requirement damages a woman's dignity, control over her body, and mental well-being.

“The size of the chest and its expansion in the case of a female candidate may not necessarily be a pointer of physical fitness and litmus test of lungs’ capacity. Even if it be so, such measurement impinges upon or intrudes on the privacy of a female. Apart from being irrational, prescribing such criterion disrupts the dignity, bodily autonomy and mental integrity of a woman,” the court said, according to the order.

Three women candidates approached the Rajasthan High Court regarding the mandate. Here's all you need to know.

It added that the decision to use chest measurement as a requirement especially for women, significantly undermines a woman's dignity and her right to privacy, which are protected by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

"This Court cannot, but refrain from observing that the respondents’ act of setting up chest measurement to be a criterion, particularly for female candidates, is absolutely arbitrary, rather outrageous to say the least. It is a clear dent on a lady’s dignity and right of privacy guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India," the court said.

Three women candidates approached the Rajasthan High Court regarding the mandate. Here's all you need to know.

The method being used, aside from lacking any scientific basis, is degrading, disrespectful, and an insult to a woman's dignity, the court said,  adding that given that candidates already need to pass a Physical Efficiency Test, which includes tasks like a 1.35-meter standing broad jump and throwing a 4 kg shot put 4.5 meters, the demand for a minimum chest circumference appears to be unreasonable and unnecessary.

"One does not see any rhyme or reason behind the criterion in question, particularly for female candidates," the Court  added as it parted with the order.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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