Guwahati, Thursday, June 04, 2009
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Maternity leave must for women employees
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, June 3 – In an important judgment, the Central Administrative Tribunal, Guwahati Bench has ruled in favour of granting maternity leave to all classes of employees irrespective of the nature of employment. The ruling favoured an applicant whose maternity leave was denied on the grounds that she was a contractual employee. In the case brought before the CAT in 2006, the applicant Dr S Devi, a contract medical practitioner with NF Railway Hospital Maligaon, had applied for maternity leave with effect from June 29, 2006 to August 29 of that year.

But leave was denied to her on the ground that she being a contractual employee could not avail that benefit and the terms and conditions of her contract would govern her case which did not specify grant of maternity leave to her. It was also stated that she was entitled to only two days of leave per month and since the said leave was exhausted, the authorities were not in a position to sanction further leave.

Seeking redress, she approached the CAT vide Original Application No. 214 of 2006 and 100 of 2007, and the Court granted the relief of maternity leave to the applicant vide its judgment and order dated May 29, 2009.

The stand of the Railway before the Court was two fold: the instruction of the Railways pertaining to grant of maternity leave that was relied upon before the Tribunal was not applicable in the case of the applicant she being not a permanent Railway employee, and that she was entitled only to the benefits available in the contract of her employment.

Against this the counsel for the applicant, Brijesh Sharma argued that the NFR’s instructions relating to maternity leave was applicable to Government servants and to bring home the fact that the applicant was a government employee he referred to the decisions of several Apex Court cases.

The court observed, “…Whatever be the nature of their duties, their avocation and the place where they work; they (women) must be provided all the facilities to which they are entitled. To become a mother is the most natural phenomenon in the life of a woman. Whatever is needed to facilitate the birth of a child to a woman who is in service, the employer has to be considerate and sympathetic towards her and must realise the physical difficulties which a working woman would face in performing her duties at the workplace while carrying a baby in the womb and while rearing up the child after birth….”

Considering these, the CAT held that the NFR’s instructions relating to leave was applicable in the case of the applicant and granted her maternity leave with full salary for the entire period of her employment w.e.f June 29, 2006 till the end of her contractual period. It was further directed that a cost of Rs 2,000 should be paid to the applicant.