Becoming a mother is a natural process; employer has to be considerate: Bombay HC

Becoming a mother is a natural process; employer has to be considerate: Bombay HC

Becoming a mother is a natural process; employer has to be considerate: Bombay HC

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In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court emphasized the natural phenomenon of motherhood and the importance of employers being considerate and sympathetic towards women in the workforce. 

The court’s decision came while overturning a communication from the Airport Authority of India (AAI), which denied maternity leave to an employee based on the number of children she had.

A division bench comprising Justices A S Chandurkar and Jitendra Jain stressed the need to honor and treat women with dignity, recognizing their significant presence in the workforce. Regardless of their roles or workplaces, women should be provided with all entitled facilities, the court affirmed.

The High Court quashed a 2014 communication from the AAI’s Western Region Headquarters, which rejected an employee’s maternity leave application, citing her existing two children. Asserting the naturalness of motherhood, the court underlined the obligation of employers to acknowledge and support the physical challenges faced by working mothers.

The judgment stemmed from petitions filed by the Airports Authority of India Workers Union and Kanakavali Raja Armugam, challenging two communications from the AAI Western Region Headquarters, which denied Kanakavali’s maternity leave request. The AAI argued that she was ineligible for maternity leave as per regulations due to already having two children.

Kanakavali, previously married to an AAI employee, had remarried after his demise and had two children from her second marriage. Despite not availing maternity leave during her first childbirth, the AAI rejected her request for the third childbirth. The court intervened, citing constitutional provisions guaranteeing just and humane work conditions and maternity relief.

Highlighting Article 42 of the Constitution, which mandates provisions for maternity relief and humane working conditions, the court emphasized the right to reproduction and child-rearing as fundamental aspects of an individual’s dignity and privacy under Article 21. The court deemed the denial of maternity leave benefits as unacceptable and directed the AAI to grant them to Kanakavali within eight weeks.