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'Denying Child-Care Leave to Mothers of Disabled Children Violates Constitutional Duty': Supreme Court

  • Posted on April 23, 2024
  • News

The Supreme Court ruled that denying child-care leave to mothers of disabled children violates the state's constitutional duty to ensure equal participation of women in the workforce, directing policy revisions to align with disability rights laws.


'Denying Child-Care Leave to Mothers of Disabled Children Violates Constitutional Duty': Supreme Court

New Delhi, April 23, 2024: The Supreme Court of India has ruled that denying child-care leave to mothers of children with disabilities amounts to a violation of the state’s obligation to enable full participation of women in the workforce.

The bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala stated that women's workforce participation is not a matter of choice but a constitutionally mandated obligation. The court underscores the significance of child-care leave for mothers of disabled children by stating that failure to provide it would be against the state's obligation to uphold this constitutional duty.

The case in question involved a teacher working in a college in Nalagarh, Himachal Pradesh, who was denied compassionate leave to care for her son, who had been ill since birth with some genetic disorders. The professor had already exhausted all her accrued leaves while caring for her son.

Emphasizing the seriousness of the matter, the bench further stated, "Working women should not be considered a matter of privilege but rather a Constitutional demand, and the State, as the model employer, cannot turn a blind eye to this."

The Supreme Court not only added the Central Government as a party in this case but also requested the assistance of Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati in hearing the case. It also directed the respective authorities to consider the candidate's plea for child-care leave.

Furthermore, the High Court directed the Himachal Pradesh Government to amend its child-care leave policy in accordance with the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. A committee consisting of the chief secretary, the secretaries of women and child development, and the social welfare department of the state has been formed to deliberate on the issue of child-care leave by July 31st.

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"Finally, the plea transcends mere policy and must align with the constitutional safeguards of the State. In the case of mothers raising children with extraordinary needs, we direct the State of Himachal Pradesh to reconsider its policy on child-care leave for mothers in accordance with the RPWD Act."

The court's decision is an important step for female employees to receive fair treatment in the workplace, acknowledging the specific challenges faced by mothers of special needs children. It highlights the government's responsibility to create an enabling environment that empowers and supports women while promoting gender equality and inclusion in the workplace.

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