Supreme Court Rules Denying Childcare Leave to Mothers Violates Constitution

The Supreme Court ruled that denying childcare leave to working mothers of disabled children violates their constitutional right to equal workforce participation, a landmark decision promoting inclusivity and accessibility.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Supreme Court Rules Denying Childcare Leave to Mothers Violates Constitution

Supreme Court Rules Denying Childcare Leave to Mothers Violates Constitution

The Supreme Court of India has ruled that denying childcare leave to working mothers of disabled children violates the constitutional mandate for equal participation of women in the workforce. The case involves a woman professor at a state university in Himachal Pradesh whose 14-year-old son suffers from a rare genetic disorder and has undergone multiple surgeries, leaving the mother depleted of all her approved leaves.

The court emphasized that providing women with childcare leave serves an important constitutional purpose of ensuring that women are not deprived of their rightful participation in the workforce. "The participation of women in the workforce is a constitutional requirement, and the state as a model employer cannot be oblivious of this," the court noted.

The case was brought by an assistant professor in the Department of Geography in Nalagarh, Himachal Pradesh. The court acknowledged that the denial of such leaves may compel a working mother to leave her job, and it is more critical for a woman having a child with special needs.

The court instructed the Himachal Pradesh government to reconsider the leave rules for mothers raising children with special needs and formed a committee chaired by the Chief Secretary to investigate the matter. The court also made the Central government a party in the case and sought a response, asking the Additional Solicitor General to assist.

Why this matters: This decision affirms the importance of inclusivity and accessibility, and reinforces the judiciary's role in fostering a more equitable and supportive environment for women in the workforce, especially those facing unique caregiving responsibilities.

The court directed the state government to revise its policy on child-care leave to make it consistent with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It also ordered the state authorities to consider the plea for granting child-care leave to the petitioner. The court noted that in 2010, the Central government had decided to give child-care leave to parents of differently abled children up to the age of 22 years.

Key Takeaways

  • SC ruled denying childcare leave to mothers of disabled children violates equality.
  • Providing childcare leave ensures women's participation in the workforce, a constitutional requirement.
  • Case involved a professor whose 14-year-old son has a rare disorder, depleting her leaves.
  • SC directed Himachal Pradesh to revise childcare leave policy for disabled children.
  • Central govt had earlier decided to grant childcare leave for parents of disabled children up to 22 years.