Can’t deny maternity benefits on technicality, Madras High Court tells govt. officials – The Hindu

Chennai News

The maternity benefit should not be denied to women by standing on mere technicalities and rigid interpretation of the rules, the Madras High Court has said.

“In Hindu mythology, women, who respect elders and sacrifice their life for the welfare of the husband’s family, are portrayed as equal or even greater than men and are regarded as equivalent to God,” the court has said while admonishing government officials for standing in the way of granting maternity benefits to women employees.

Second Division Bench of Justices S. Vaidyanathan and Mohammed Shaffiq said, though the Centre as well as the State governments had been liberally implementing various schemes for the welfare and upliftment of women, the authorities concerned do not implement and let those benefits reach the women “for some extraneous consideration.”

The observations were made while dismissing a writ appeal preferred by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Coimbatore) Limited. The Bench refused to accept the corporation’s contention that a non-permanent woman employee who had put in only 145 days of service was not eligible for paid maternity leave since the minimum requirement was 160 days.

Call for liberal approach

Impressing upon the need for liberal interpretation of the rules for according the benefit of 180 days of paid maternity leave to women employees, the judges said, it must be remembered that birth of a baby amounts to rebirth of the mother and if a woman is not properly taken care during pregnancy, it could endanger the life of the mother as well as child.

“A woman has to sacrifice several things during fecundation. The labor pain is measured by a mechanism / unit called ‘dol’ and the woman experiences 57 dols, similar to 20 bones simultaneously getting fractured, which a normal human being, including a man cannot bear,” the Division Bench wrote highlighting the immense physical pain undergone by women.

It was for this reason, most of the countries including China, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia and Cuba have liberal policies when it comes to grant maternity and paternity leave to their citizens. Therefore, it was essential that such a benefit does not get denied to a woman by standing on mere technicalities and rigid interpretation of the rules, the Bench concluded.