Taking a view contrary to the one taken consistently by many single Judges of the High Court of Madras since 2010, the first Division Bench of the Court, led by its Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi, has now held that Women Govt Employees are not entitled to 180 days of paid maternity leave for their second delivery if they had given birth to more than 1 baby during their first delivery and if all those children were surviving.
Laying stress on the words “with less than two surviving children” found in the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules of 1972, the Bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, said those who had begotten twins, triplets or quadruplets in the first delivery wouldn’t be entitled to full paid maternity leave benefits for their next delivery since the intention of the rule-makers was to restrict the pecuniary benefits depending upon the number of children and not number of deliveries.
The Bench said that even otherwise, it is a debatable subject as to whether a delivery in which a woman gives birth to twins or more babies could be technically termed as a single delivery.
The Judges expressed their disinclination to elaborate any further and said, “When twins are born, they are delivered one after another. Their age and inter-se elderly status are also determined by virtue of the gap of time between their arrivals which amounts to two deliveries and not one simultaneous act”.
The Judgment was passed while setting aside an order passed by a single Judge on June 18, 2019, for grant of paid maternity leave of 180 days to M. Asiya Begum, a Sub Inspector (SI) in Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), for her 2nd delivery in 2017 though she had given birth to twins during her first delivery in 2015.
The Bench concluded, “Without taking note of the rules and the aforesaid facts, the learned single judge appears to have extended the benefit erroneously”.
Senior Central Govt Standing Counsel K. Srinivasa Murthy pointed out that the single judge had simply followed a series of decisions rendered by 3 other single Judges of the HC in cases related to State Govt service rules, which had also restricted the 180 days of paid maternity leave benefit only to Women Govt. servants with less than 2 surviving children. The single Judges had interpreted the service rule to mean that women should be accorded the benefit of paid maternity leave for at least2 deliveries irrespective of the number of babies delivered.
Otherwise, “it may produce ridiculous results. To cite an example, if during the first delivery, a woman government servant delivers a single child and by the second delivery if she delivers twins or triplets, then should she be disqualified,” one of the Judges had asked.