Chennai, Nov 5: Asserting that an employer cannot dictate the type of material to be used for uniform, the Madras High Court today set aside a order by the Chennai Airport directing a woman employee to use only the dress prescribed by the Airports Authority while on duty.
Allowing a writ petition by a senior Office Assistant S Kasthuri in 1999, who used khadi/handloom material instead of silk while maintaining the colour prescribed by the airport, Justice K Chandru said the airport had the power to prescribe a uniform and even indicate the colour and shade of material one should wear but it cannot not dictate on the type of linen.
Silk and synthetic material prescribed were neither suited to our country nor did it reflect the ethos of the independence movement, he said.
"Rather than appreciating the principle stand taken by the petitioner, it is unthinkable that the respondent should come up with an unjustified reference to a so-called service regulation," the Judge said, adding that Article 51 A (b) of the Constitution clearly stipulated that a citizen of the Union had a duty to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired the freedom struggle.
He directed the Chennai Airport to pay Kasthuri Rs 5,000 as costs.
Kasthuri was appointed as a junior clerk in 1973 in the office of Director General of Civil Aviation. In 1989, she was made an employee of AAI and subsequently redesignated as senior office assistant. Since 1994 the employees were made to wear silk or polyster sarees.
The petitioner who used khadi/ handloom cotton dresses and khadi chappals was told in August 1996 to attend office in the prescribed uniform.
Kasthuri, inspired by life and principles of Mahatma Gandhi right from her childhood, contended that she neither collected her uniform sarees nor claimed any allowance in lieu of it. - Agencies