Chandigarh, March 19: While hearing a nursing officer’s plea challenging a hospital’s decision to reject her maternity leave, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that a woman can only avail of the leave if she has two or fewer surviving children.
This is irrespective of whether they are biological or not, the court added.
As per reports, the high court bench of Justice Jaswant Singh and Justice Sant Parkash passed the order while dismissing the plea of a nursing officer, working with Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, who had challenged the hospital’s decision to reject her maternity leave.
The nurse had applied for leave after giving birth to her first biological child after marrying a man, who already had two children from his first marriage.
However, the leave request for June 2019 to September 2019 was denied by PGIMER and converted into earned leave, said the report.
Before approaching the high court in February this year, she had challenged the decision before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) but failed to get relief.
PGIMER had told the court that the woman had entered the names of the two children from her husband’s first marriage in the official record, and availed child care leave and treatment facility for them on many occasions, said the report.
Citing Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, the hospital had said that as she already had two surviving children, she was not eligible for maternity leave.
In her argument, the nursing officer said that she had sought leave for her first biological child and PGIMER could not deprive her of her legitimate right to maternity leave on the artificial analogy of having two surviving children.
While dismissing her plea, the high court bench observed that perusal of the service rules will reveal that maternity leave can be granted to a female government servant only if she had less than two surviving children.
“Though the petitioner is not the biological mother of the two children born from the first wedlock of her husband, she cannot deny the fact that now she is their mother,” the report quoted the court.
The court also took note of the fact that she has also availed of child care leave for the two children.
“In view of this, any child born to her is to be considered as the third child,” the bench said while upholding CAT’s decision to deny her relief.