MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

No differentiation permissible between regular, contractual employees for maternity benefits: Calcutta High Court

The petitioner, who was employed on a contractual basis as an executive intern with RBI for a period of three years from August 16, 2011, moved the high court, questioning the failure on the part of the apex bank to allow maternity leave with pay to her for 180 days

PTI Calcutta Published 28.02.24, 02:27 PM
Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court File

Observing that no differentiation is permissible between regular and contractual employees on the question of a woman’s right to childbirth and maternity leave, the Calcutta High Court has directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to compensate an executive intern.

The petitioner, who was employed on a contractual basis as an executive intern with RBI for a period of three years from August 16, 2011, moved the high court, questioning the failure on the part of the apex bank to allow maternity leave with pay to her for 180 days.

ADVERTISEMENT

Justice Raja Basu Chowdhury observed in his judgement passed on Monday that on the question of a woman’s right to childbirth and maternity leave, no differentiation is permissible between regular and contractual employees of the bank.

The court directed the lead bank to give compensation to her in the form of leave with pay for the period for which it was denied.

Noting that the RBI ordinarily provides maternity benefits to its employees as per its master circular, the judge said "non-extension of such benefits to the petitioner, in my view, constitutes discriminatory act as the same seeks to create a class within a class which is not permissible." The court said that this is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Denial of grant of maternity leave to the petitioner constitutes a discriminatory act and is an offence within the meaning of the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, the court said.

It said that as per clause 5(1) of the Act, every woman would be entitled to, and her employer would be liable for, the payment of maternity benefits.

Justice Basu Chowdhury said that if the RBI is permitted to deny the petitioner the basic right of the maternity benefit and only leave is extended without compensation, the same would be tantamount to compel an employee to work during her advanced pregnancy, notwithstanding the same may ultimately endanger both her and her foetus.

"If the same is permitted, the object of social justice would stand deviated," the court observed.

In the course of her employment with the apex bank, the petitioner having conceived had applied for maternity leave by a letter dated November 20, 2012, for six months, with effect from December 3, 2012 as she was advised bed rest by the doctor, and her expected due date for delivery was sometimes in the first part of January, 2013.

Although there was no communication at that time rejecting the petitioner’s application, she was informed by a letter dated March 14, 2013, that she was not entitled to maternity leave as per the terms of the contract.

She was further told that her absence from duty may be treated as leave without compensation.

The RBI authorities here also informed her that she would be entitled to medical benefits as available to the junior most officers in the bank.

Malini Chakraborty, advocate representing the petitioner, submitted before the court that the employment contract cannot have an overriding effect on the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, which is a beneficial piece of legislation.

She also contended that it is a central Act and the same clearly has an overriding effect on other Acts, including the employment contract.

Opposing her submission, the advocate representing the banking regulator drew the attention of the court to the contract for employment dated June 13, 2011 as applicable in the case of the petitioner, submitting that the same is limited to grant of medical benefits only.

He further submitted that there is no provision for grant of maternity benefits.

He stated that the petitioner had accepted the said terms by acknowledging on a copy thereof and as such she cannot be permitted to deviate therefrom at a later stage.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT