Maternity Leave Benefit Is Not A Matter Of Charity, Says Delhi District Judge Hearing Woman’s Plea
A judge from Delhi’s Tis Hazari Court surprised everyone when he quoted eminent Hollywood personalities like Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep while hearing a case on a woman’s maternity leave.
Judge Mohd Farrukh while hearing the 2009 case, quoted Oprah saying, “The choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is. Grant of maternity leave benefit is not a matter of charity.”
He went on to quote other feminist actors while upholding a Rs 2.5 lakh compensation to a woman who was terminated for extending her maternity leave, as reportedby.
The case involved a woman who was working for Delhi Council for Child Welfare, an NGO, when she applied for maternity leave from December 30, 2008, to February 28, 2009.
Later on, she requested an extension till March 30, 2009, stating that she wasn’t medically fit to commence her work but when she went to resume work on April 1, 2009, she was already terminated.
A termination letter was sent to her, on April 13, in response to which she sent a legal notice to her employer, ten days later. On May 29, her employer replied to the notice with a cheque of Rs 98,271 as final settlement.
On August 20 2018, the district court convicted the employer noting that the woman should have been given a show-cause notice before her termination and slapped the NGO with a fine of Rs 2.5 lakhs.
The compensation order was challenged in front of Judge Farrukh, stating that the woman was entitled to only 12 weeks of leave under the Maternity Act of 1961, hence violating no law.
But Judge Farrukh highlighted a provision in the act that enabled the mother to avail a month’s additional leave over the granted 12 weeks, making her extension permissible under the law.
Quoting veteran actor Meryl Streep, he said, “Motherhood has a very humanising effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.” He even cited Catherine Zeta-Jones, who had once said, “Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned or medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, your life will never be same.”
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