The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to all the states to frame rules for menstrual pain leave for female students and working women.
The petitioner had said that countries like the United Kingdom, China, Wales, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain and Zambia are already providing menstrual pain leave in one form or the other.
What the PIL sought
The PIL sought a direction to the Centre and all the states for compliance of section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
“The 1961 Act makes provisions for almost all the problems faced by women that can be understood by several of its provisions which have made it mandatory for employers to grant paid leave to women employees for certain number of days during pregnancy, in case of miscarriage, for tubectomy operation and also in cases of medical complications arising out of these stages of maternity,” the petition stated.
It said the central civil services (CCS) leave rules have made provisions like child care leave for women for a period of 730 days during their entire service period to take care of their first two children till they attain the age of 18 years.
The plea had said this rule has also given 15 days of paternity leave to male employees to take care of a child, which is another great step of a welfare state in recognising the rights and problems of working women.
On February 15, the top court agreed to hear the PIL.
SC agrees to argument over employability
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud disposed of the petition and granted liberty to the PIL petitioner to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development with a representation seeking a policy decision on the issue.
“This is a policy matter so we are not dealing with this…Having regard to the policy views, it would be appropriate if the petitioner approaches the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. The petition is accordingly disposed of,” said the bench which also comprised justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala.
During the brief hearing, the bench took note of the submissions of a law student opposing the PIL, that if employers are compelled to grant menstrual pain leaves to women employees every month, then it may disincentivise them from hiring them.
The court, however, said though the plea had raised some critical points, the issue being a related policy, it cannot entertain this.
Union government not considering menstrual leave
Last week, the Union Ministry of Education said that it has not considered making a provision for mandatory paid menstrual leave for women in all workplaces.
The Union Minister of Education for State, Subhas Sarkar, shared the information in response to a written question in Lok Sabha.
“No such proposal is under consideration in the ministry,” he said when asked whether the government will bring legislation to ensure menstruation benefit leave in educational institutions.
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