Maternity leave right can't be taken away if availed earlier for non-biological kids: SC

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Supreme Court | Photo: AP

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that a woman's right to avail maternity leave cannot be taken away, if she had earlier availed child care leave for her non-biological kids.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the fact that the woman was given child care leave cannot be used to disentitle her rights under Central Civil Services Rules (CCS Rules). The bench, also comprising justice A.S. Bopanna, added the object and intent of the grant of maternity leave would be defeated.

The bench said the provisions of CCS Rules regarding maternity leave have to be interpreted in line with the object and intent of the Maternity Benefit Act. The petitioner's two children were from husband's previous marriage.

The petitioner is working as a nurse at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh (PGIMER), and she was denied maternity leave for her biological child. The petitioner was told that she had already availed such leave for two of her elder kids.

The respondent's counsel argued that the restriction on maternity leave to the two eldest surviving children was meant for encouraging smaller families.

The petitioner moved the top court through advocate Akshay Verma challenging the Central Administrative Tribunal and the Punjab and Haryana High Court order, which dismissed her plea for allowance as per maternity leave benefits in the CCS Rules, 2013.

During the hearing, the bench observed that petitioner having kids from her husband's previous marriage was not voluntary. The top court said the grant of maternity leave is to encourage women to continue in the workplace, and held that appellant is entitled to the grant of maternity leave, and set aside the orders of the high court and the tribunal.

Speaking to IANS, Verma said: "Women cannot be denied maternity benefit for her biological child even though she has availed her child care leave for her adopted children." IANS

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