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Hotel Association of India (2008) 3 SCC 1

SUBMITTED BY: Parina Muchhala

ENROLMENT NO.: 2017 038


In the contemporary era, preconceived notions presuming the presence of certain

‘characteristics’ within individuals, by virtue of either their gender or sex, are increasingly
being challenged in courts. Traditionally, such presumptions would have paved the way for
differential treatment, often infringing the basic rights of an individual. It is in this backdrop
that the Supreme Court, in Anuj Garg v. Hotel Association of India, cleared the hurdles for
progressive sex jurisprudence. The language of this judgment, albeit highly simple, has
played a major role in expanding upon commonly understood concepts like stereotypes,
discrimination, and the ‘guardian role’ of the State. In this regard, it is the aim of this paper to
understand and acknowledge the laudable role of the judgment’s language in shaping the idea
of sex equality. The research methodology is a three - part test towards language analysis:
firstly, the researcher will identify certain fundamental phrases, and demonstrate how their
interpretation is essential for understanding the Court’s rationale. Secondly, the researcher
shall highlight key words crucial to the judgment, and show how the Court has intended to
subtly expand the scope of such words through the language of the paragraphs neighbouring
them. The researcher may make use of Peirce’s sign system to aid the process of
interpretation. Thirdly, owing to the Court’s division of the judgment into parts, the
researcher shall analyse language variations under each part. The aim of this is to combine all
previous inferences and gauge an overall understanding of the influence of language on the
judgment. Through an analysis of important concepts discussed by this judgment, like the
words ‘indirect discrimination’ and the idea of ‘parens patriae,’ the researcher wants to
understand how language incorporates new perspectives to create an entirely different
understanding of an existing concept, so as to enable it to stand the test of time.

The moot point of this case was the constitutionality of Section 30 of the Punjab Excise Act.
According to this provision, men below the age of 25 years and women, irrespective of their
age, could not be employed in any premises where liquor was consumed. This raised glaring
concerns in the hospitality industry, which not only witnessed ample participation from
women, but was also an upcoming employment sector for fresh graduates, most of who were
below the age of 25 years.

The aggrieved petitioners filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court arguing that the
Section was violative of Articles 19 (1) (g), 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. The Court
subsequently ruled in their favour, reasoning that the provision, a pre - constitutional law
existent by virtue of Article 372, was prima facie violative of Articles 14 and 15 and hence
unconstitutional. This, however, was held to be violative only to the extent that it prohibited
the employment of women. The order of the Court, dated January 12, 2006, was accepted by
the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The continuation of the restriction against men below 25 years of age prompted the
petitioners, Anuj Garg and a few other citizens of Delhi, to file a special leave petition before
the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. Hotel Association of India,
a petitioner in the first case, was made respondent to this petition for it supported the Delhi
High Court’s impugned judgment.

In this appeal, by virtue of the historical background and growth of active advocacy for equal
rights in the legal sphere, the two judge bench of Justices S.B. Sinha and H.S. Bedi briefly
discussed the following issues:

1. Whether the impugned judgment of Delhi High Court required reconsideration?

2. Whether ‘discrimination’ was restricted only to ‘direct effects’ that can tangibly be
3. Whether any specific factors must be taken into consideration to assess the
constitutionality of a provision?
4. Whether there is a role, responsibility and limitation of the State specifically in the
context of striving for equal gender and sex rights?

The appellants were represented by Senior Counsel Rajiv Dutta, while Senior Counsel Arun
Jaitley argued for the respondents.