Denial of maternity benefits inhumane, against social justice: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has categorically declared the denial of maternity benefits to a female employee as “inhumane” and a violation of fundamental rights, stating that it impedes her choice to bring life into the world. This assertion came in response to the court’s condemnation of the arbitrary decision by Delhi University (DU) to terminate the services of a contractual employee while she was on maternity leave.

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh, while deeming the termination of the woman’s services without notice as unsustainable, emphasized that maternity benefits cannot be withheld from a female employee solely on the basis of her contractual employment. Given the unlawful termination, the court directed the authorities to reinstate the employee and award her Rs 50,000 as compensation.

The recent court order underscored that maternity benefits are not contingent upon statutory provisions but are an integral aspect of a woman’s identity. Justice Singh stated, “Denial of such rights is, in fact, standing in the way of a woman choosing to bring life into the world, thereby violating her fundamental right to life. Such denial is indeed against the principles of social justice.”

The petitioner, employed as a female attendant at a DU hostel on an ad-hoc basis since 2018, highlighted that despite the approval of her maternity leave, she did not receive her salary during that period. Upon resuming her duties, she was informed of the termination of her services.

The court referenced a DU notification stipulating 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for women employed on a contractual or ad-hoc basis. The petitioner’s employment on a contractual basis, with a subsequent extension, made the maternity policy applicable to her. The court concluded that the institution’s termination of her services without notice was arbitrary.

The court allowed the petition and directed the respondents to reinstate the petitioner to her previous or an equivalent post based on eligibility. Furthermore, it instructed the authorities to disburse maternity benefits as per the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, within four weeks.

Team Lawctors

Team Lawctors

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