"No restriction on availing maternity leave within 2 years after earlier maternity leave expires: Allahabad High Court"
The Court was dealing with a challenge to the rejection of an application for maternity leave on the ground that leave could not be given before 2 years from the date on which maternity leave granted earlier expired.
The Allahabad High Court has once again clarified that the Maternity Benet Act of 1961 does not bar the grant of maternity leave a second time before the completion of two years from the date on which maternity leave granted earlier expires (Preeti Singh v. State of UP and ors).
The Court was dealing with a petition challenging an order rejecting an application for maternity leave on the ground that such leave could not be sought before the expiry of two years from the date on which maternity leave granted earlier came to an end (December 28, 2019, in this case)
The petitioner, however, pointed out that the Allahabad High Court's earlier ruling in Smt. Richa Shukla v. State of UP supports her case. She contended that the same judgment squarely covers the case at hand. Justice Saurabh Lavania, in turn, agreed with the petitioner that the Richa Shukla ruling squarely covered this case. The High Court proceeded to quote relevant extracts of the said case, including
In the instant case, the maternity leave as applied by the petitioner has been rejected by placing reliance on Rule 153(1) of the Financial Handbook by contending that the same contains a restriction that the second maternity leave cannot be granted and would be admissible in case there is difference of less than two years between the end of the rst maternity leave and grant of second maternity leave. Admittedly, the rst maternity leave of the petitioner ended on 30.12.2017 and thus the respondents have rejected the claim of the petitioner for grant of second maternity leave. However, once 1961 Act does not contain any such stipulation accordingly it is apparent that the respondents have patently erred in placing reliance on Rule 153(1) of the Financial Handbook in rejecting the application of the petitioner for grant of maternity leave more particularly when Section 27 of 1961 Act provides that it is 1961 Act which would be applicable notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other law or contract of service."
In view of this position, the High Court allowed the petition while quashing the challenged order whereby the petitioner's leave request was rejected..
The respondents were directed to consider the case of the petitioner for grant of maternity leave, taking into consideration the observations made in the Richa Shukla case within ten days from the date of receipt of the order.
The vires of Rule 153(1) of the Financial Handbook putting a restriction that the second maternity leave cannot be granted and would be admissible in case there is a difference of fewer than two years between the end of the first maternity leave and grant of second maternity leave can be challenged as being opposed to the Section 27 of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 read with Article 42 of the Constitution of India.
From India, Mumbai
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