Courts Update Madhya Pradesh High Court directs authorities to give maternity...

Madhya Pradesh High Court directs authorities to give maternity leave benefit to a contractual woman employee

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Madhya Pradesh Aug 17(ILNS): The  Jabalpur Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court recently, while disposing of a Petition, directed the concerned authority to give the benefit of maternity leave to Petitioner as per administrative instructions issued by General Administration Department.

Petitioner has called in question an order dated February 6, 2018, passed by Executive Engineer, PHE Umariya. Petitioner has applied for a grant of maternity leave between December 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017. Said application was not decided, therefore, Petitioner filed Writ Petition before the High Court which was disposed of vide order dated January 29, 2018. In view of the said order, Executive Engineer, PHE Umariya considered the application of Petitioner and dismissed the same on the ground that Petitioner is a contract employee and condition of contract does not provide for maternity leave.

A Single Bench of Justice Vishal Dhagat after hearing the Counsel for the Petitioner and state observed that in the case of Priyanka Gujarkar Shrivastava (supra) High Court vide its order dated March 2, 2017, held that various High Courts namely Allahabad, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana, and Uttrakhand, has relied on the law laid down by the Apex Court in case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Female Workers (Muster Roll) and another-(2000) 3 SCC 224.

Ashish Trivedi, Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that earlier in the Priyanka Gujarkar Shrivastava case, the Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court granted the benefit of maternity leave to contract employees, therefore, Petitioner is also entitled to the same benefit.

Sanjana Sahni, Counsel for the State submitted that Petitioner was appointed under Department of Public Health Engineering vide order dated April 26, 2013, on a contractual basis. As per condition no. 15, incumbents who are appointed on a contractual basis are only entitled to 13 days of casual leave.

Counsel for the State contended that the case of Priyanka Gujarkar Shrivastava was distinguishable as an order was passed in respect of employees working under the establishment of District and Sessions Court. The State Government had issued a circular dated 5.6.2018 whereby maternity leave of 90 days has been allowed to contractual employees and the same is applicable from June 5, 2018. Petitioner wants to avail of the benefit of maternity leave for the period December 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017. During which said circular was not in force, therefore, the application filed by the petitioner was rightly rejected by the Executive Engineer, PHE Umariya.

In the case of Female Workers (Muster Roll). It has been held by the Apex Court that maternity leave does not change with the nature of employment and the employer and the Courts are bound under the constitutional scheme guaranteeing the right to life, a right to live with dignity and protect the health of both mother and child, and after taking note of identical principle, petitions have been allowed, the Court further observed.

The Bench is of the view that the Division Bench of the High Court has held that as contractual employees were directed to be granted the benefit of maternity leave at par with regular employees, therefore, a similar benefit was extended to the petitioner in the current petition. In this case, also, the petitioner is a contractual employee.

State Government by its notification dated June 5, 2018, has issued administrative directions. Clause 1.14.4 provides that women appointed on a contractual basis are entitled to get 90 days maternity leave and women employees will be entitled to get benefits with riders which are applicable in the case of Women Government employees.

In view of the circular of the State Government, the High Court does not see any reason not to extend the similar benefit to Petitioner who is a woman employee appointed on a contractual basis. Therefore the Court partly allowed the petition filed by the Petitioner directing respondents to give the benefit of maternity leave to Petitioner as per administrative instructions issued by the General Administration Department dated June 5, 2018./ILNS/SS/SNG

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