‘Maternity leave not based on number of children’

Madras HC has ruled that a woman govt employee who delivered twins in the first delivery itself cannot be denied maternity leave benefits for her second delivery on the ground that she already had two surviving children.

Last Updated: Oct 21, 2010, 13:42 PM IST

Madurai: Madras High Court Bench has ruled
that a woman government employee who delivered twins in the
first delivery itself cannot be denied maternity leave
benefits for her second delivery on the ground that she
already had two surviving children.

Allowing a petition by a woman teacher, Justice K Chandru
disagreed with a Government Order passed on June 27, 1997
stating that maternity leave shall not be granted to women
government servants who already had two surviving children.

He said the real intention behind regulating the grant of
maternity leave could only be to limit the benefit up to the
second delivery and not on the basis of number of children
born during each of those deliveries.

"If it is not construed in this way, it may produce
ridiculous results. To cite an example, if during the first
delivery a woman government servant delivers a single child
and by the second delivery if she delivers twins or triplets,
then should she be disqualified?" the judge asked.

"The importance has to be seen only from the health point
of the woman government servant," he said.

Various legislations regarding maternity benefits since
the pre-independence era showed that care for women and
maternity relief was recognised by the Constitution itself
under Article 42, he said.

As per Article 42, the state should make a provision for
securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity
relief. Eleven years after the Constitution was adopted,
Parliament enacted the Maternity Benefit Act in 1961.

The law was enacted following convention of International
Labour organisation which guaranteed maternity protection to
women irrespective of their age, nationality, race or creed
with effect from Sept 7,1955, the judge said in his recent
order on the petition by J Sharmila, a Block Resources
Teacher Educator under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Scheme in
Tuticorin District.

PTI