Can Maternity be Equated with Loss of Employment? Delhi High Court Rules

Delhi High court was hearing a case of Manisha Priyadarshini v. Aurobindo College-evening and others. In its judgment, the court quashed the decision of the private college. The college had refused the renewal of the service contract of an ad-hoc professor who had opted to take maternity leave. Adding to it, the court held that maternity leave cannot be a legitimate ground for denying extension of tenure to the petitioner. The court noted that such a decision is not justified. Moreover, such denial would amount to penalizing a woman for choosing to become a mother. Thus, creating a choiceless situation as motherhood would be equated with loss of employment.

Facts of the Case

The petitioner was an ad-hoc teacher. It is a general practice in the Respondent College to renew the term for 120 days after giving a break for one day between two terms. The petitioner’s term was to end on March 18, 2019. Before that, she applied for maternity leave on February 2, 2019. However, she received a communication from the college. It stated that Delhi University does not extend maternity leave to contractual workers. The college rejected her leave. Later, she reported to the college on May 24, 2019. After five days of her joining, she was informed that she is no longer on the rolls of the college and no work was assigned to her.

Ratio Decidendi

The decision of the college violates the basic principle of equity in the eyes of law. It deprives the petitioner of the protection ensured by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Article 21 ensures the right to employment and protection of her reproductive rights as a woman. It also goes against the principles of equality enshrined under Article 14 and 16.  The bench consisting of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Asha Menon directed the college to reinstate the Appellant Professor within one week. Furthermore, the court imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on the respondents. It was on account of giving arbitrary and unmerited reasons for the non-renewal of the term of the petitioner.

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Shriya Katariahttp://lexinsider.com
A writer by day and a reader by night. I am a Lawyer in making and a lifelong humanitarian. My enthusiasm for content writing and public speaking is real and undeniable. When not writing, I'm either painting or busy with my slam poetry.