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Atypical manifestations of the family unit are equally deserving of the benefits available under social welfare legislation: Supreme Court

 

Maternity leave relief was granted for the appellant by the Supreme Court through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE D.Y. Chandrachud in the case of Deepika Singh v. Central Administrative Tribunal and Ors. (Civil Appeal No.5308 of 2022)

FACTS OF THE CASE: Brief facts of the case are as follows; In the present case, the woman’s husband had two children from his previous marriage and she had previously availed child care leave for her non-biological child. When a child was born to her in the marriage, the authorities denied her maternity leave, citing the bar under Rule 43. Rule 43(1) of the Central Civil Service Rules restrict maternity leave only with respect to two surviving children.

JUDGEMENT: After reviewing the submissions of both sides, the Hon’ble Court opined that the appellant’s family structure changed when she assumed a parental role with regard to her spouse’s biological children from his previous marriage, according to the court’s conclusion that the facts of the current case show. “When the appellant applied to PGIMER for maternity leave, PGIMER was faced with facts that the law may not have envisaged or adequately accounted for. When courts are confronted with such situations, they would do well to attempt to give effect to the purpose of the law in question rather than to prevent its application”, the bench said while setting aside the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Central Administrative Tribunal which denied her the relief.” the Court said.The court also mentioned as obiter “Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships. A household may be a single parent household for any number of reasons, including the death of a spouse, separation, or divorce. Similarly, the guardians and caretakers (who traditionally occupy the roles of the “mother” and the “father”) of children may change with remarriage, adoption, or fostering. These manifestations of love and of families may not be typical but they are as real as their traditional counterparts. Such atypical manifestations of the family unit are equally deserving not only of protection under law but also of the benefits available under social welfare legislation”. The Apex Court held that Rule 43 of the Central Civil Services (Leave Rules) 1972 has to be given a purposive interpretation in terms of the Maternity Benefit Act and Article 15 of the Constitution of India, under which the State is to adopt beneficial provisions for protecting the interest of women. The bench thus set aside the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Central Administrative Tribunal which denied her the relief.

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Judgement reviewed by – Abhinav Paul Mathew

 

 

 

 

 

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