High Court orders RBI to pay compensation for denying maternity leave of Female Employee

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The Kolkata High Court ruled that there should be no discrimination between regular and contract employees regarding the rights of childbirth and maternity leave. A petitioner, appointed on a contract basis for three years from August 16, 2011, as an executive trainee in the RBI, had challenged the top bank’s failure to grant maternity leave with pay for 180 days.

Justice Raja Basu Choudhury, in his verdict on Monday, stated that there should be no discrimination between regular and contract employees working in the bank on issues related to the birth of a child and maternity leave rights. The court directed the Lead Bank to compensate her for the period she was denied leave with pay.

Considering that the RBI generally provides maternity benefits to its employees as per its master circular, the judge stated, “Denying the petitioner such benefits, in my opinion, is a discriminatory act as its purpose is to create a distinction within a class, which is not permissible.”

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The court declared this to be a violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. It emphasized that refusing maternity leave to the petitioner is a discriminatory act and a contravention of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

Justice Basu Choudhury remarked that if the RBI is allowed to deprive the petitioner of her fundamental right to maternity benefits and only grant leave without pay, it would be akin to forcing an employee to work during her pregnancy, posing risks to both her and the fetus. The court stated, “If permitted, it would defeat the purpose of social justice.”

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