On 4th August, 2021, the High Court of Rajasthan passed judgement in State of Rajasthan v Neeraj, wherein a single judge’s decision of granting maternity leave to a woman who gave birth prior to joining the service was upheld.
The facts of the case are that the respondent-petitioner gave birth to a child almost a month prior to her receiving the appointment letter. Subsequently she applied for a maternity leave. The request for her maternity leave was decided after 2 years. After a case was brought before a single bench of the Rajasthan High Court, the Judge held the woman to be entitled to the maternity relied. The same was challenged before the Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court.
The Division Bench consisting of Hon’ble Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Hon’ble Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur heard the matter.
The Additional Advocate General argued that the benefits of maternity leave are not available to the respondent because the delivery happened before commission of the job. Under Rule 103 of the Rajasthan Service Rules, 1951 a female servant is entitled for maternity leave only if she is in service. In the present case she was not a part of the service on the date she delivered the baby.
The Counsel for the respondent submitted that it is a beneficial legislation and the fact that the respondent joined only 19 days after the delivery of the baby does not deny her the benefit of the maternity leave.
The Court agreed with the view of Kerala High Court in the case of Mini KT v Senior Divisional Manager, LIC wherein the single Judge discussed the importance of motherhood, role of mothers and their position in the Indian society. The case also stated that “If on any reason she could not attend her workplace due to her duties towards child (compelling circumstances), the employer has to protect her person-hood as ‘mother’”
The Court rejected the reasoning of the Counsel for the petitioner on the ground that Rule 103 has a nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the legislature which is facilitating a woman to overcome the problems and issues at the time of the delivery. Therefore, if a woman delivers a child before joining the services but within the confinement period, she would be entitled to maternity relief.
Therefore the Court upheld the decision of the Single Judge and dismissed the appeal.