On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of India slammed a DU college for suspending an ad hoc female assistant professor during her maternity leave and stated that expecting a child is no reflection on women’s professional ability.
Professor Manisha Priyadarshini had been appointed as an ad hoc assistant professor in a college affiliated to Delhi University. Her contractual appointment at DU College was getting revived every four months with a contractual break of one day for the past six years. Her contract was last renewed in the year 2018 when she was working as an ad-hoc teacher at Aurobindo College of Delhi University. In January 2019 she applied for four months of maternity leave as she was facing contractions during a gestation period. She gave pre-mature birth and the college expelled her from her service in March in-between her maternity leave.
A two-tier bench of Justices Asha Menon and Hima Kohli ordered her reinforcement and compelled a cost of Rs. 50,000 on the Aurobindo college which disputed against it in the Supreme Court.
A Supreme Court bench comprising of justices Indira Banerjee and D. Y. Chandrachud asserted that maternity leave cannot be taken as a ground for the cessation of services. Having a child is not a deliberation on women’s professional careers whether she is in the Navy, Army, teaching, judiciary, or bureaucracy. We will not permit the termination of women’s professional career on this ground.
When Santosh Kumar, the counsel for the Aurobindo College said that the charge should be waived, the justice bench said that the female ad-hoc professor would have had to fight the might of the college and must have expended much in the court trial. The imposition of charge is a reasonable way of curtailing trivial litigation. It is therefore crucial for the Supreme Court to substantiate imposing charges.
The Supreme Court confided the High Court’s jurisdiction which said the rejection of the extension of service due to her condition to go on maternity leave due to pregnancy would tantamount to charging women for choosing to conceive a child while still employed and thus shoving her into a choiceless condition as motherhood would be correlated with losing employment.