Two-Year Childcare Leave Essential for Female Employees – Supreme Court  

Supreme Court of India
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New Delhi, 23rd April 2024: In a landmark ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court emphasized the constitutional imperative of providing a two-year childcare leave, in addition to the mandated 180-day maternity leave, for female employees.

The court asserted that denying such leave amounts to compelling women to relinquish their jobs, a stance underscored by the unique case of petitioner Shalini Dharmani, an assistant professor at a government college in Himachal Pradesh. Dharmani, citing her child’s rare genetic disorder necessitating multiple surgeries, found herself embroiled in a battle against the state government’s refusal to grant her childcare leave due to the absence of a provision similar to Section 43-C of the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules.

Presenting her case before the bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justice J B Pardiwala, Dharmani’s counsel, Pragati Neekhra, highlighted her client’s predicament, having exhausted her available leaves without recourse to childcare leave. The court, taking exception to Himachal Pradesh’s lack of a childcare leave provision, underscored the fundamental right of women to participate in the workforce. The absence of such provisions, the bench argued, would force mothers into untenable situations, compelling them to abandon their careers to care for their children.

In response to the glaring disparity, the bench issued a directive to the Himachal Pradesh government to promptly convene a high-level committee tasked with reevaluating the issue of childcare leave. The move signifies a significant step towards rectifying systemic inequities and ensuring gender parity in the workplace.