Calcutta HC Directs RBI To Compensate Contractual Employee For Denying Maternity Benefits

OB Bureau

Kolkata: Giving its judgment in a decade-old case, the Calcutta High Court recently directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to compensate an executive intern employed on contractual basis for having denied her maternity benefit claims.

The intern, Neeta Kumari, employed by RBI for a period of three years from August 16, 2011, had moved the High Court in 2013, questioning the failure on the part of the central bank to allow maternity leave with pay to her.

A single judge bench of Justice Raja Basu Chowdhury on Monday observed 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 struck down RBI’s argument that only regular employees could avail maternity leave, saying that it violated a person’s fundamental right as ensured by Article 14 of the Constitution.

Justice Chowdhury said that it was “discriminatory” and “seeks to create a class within a class, which is not permissible”. He further added that it would be tantamount to “compel an employee to work during her advanced ” even though that may endanger both her and her foetus.

Kumari in her petition had stated that she had applied for 180 days’ maternity leave in November 2012 and in her application, she had asked for leave from December 3, 2012, because the doctor had advised her bed rest and her expected delivery date was the first week of January 2013.

RBI did not immediately respond and in March 2013, she was told that she was not entitled to the leave and that her absence would be treated as leave without pay.

Directing RBI to compensate Kumari, the court added, “A healthy mother and a healthy child not only ensure the growth and development of the child but of the nation as well, as the child of today would be the force behind tomorrow’s development. Depriving such benefits to the mother and the foetus or child would be tantamount to depriving the nation of its future.”



OB Bureau

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