By: Aparajita Patel

The Karnataka High Court recently overturned an order issued by officials of the Employees State Insurance Corporation Medical College and Hospital (ESIC hospital), Kalaburagi, denying a doctor employed by the hospital maternity leave [Dr Swetha vs Union of India and others].

According to an ESIC office memorandum dated January 11, 2018, any teaching or non-teaching employee who has completed 80 days of service is entitled to maternity leave, according to single judge Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy of the High Court.

The petitioner would be entitled to maternity leave after completing 125 days of employment, according to the Court.

“According to Annexure-F, Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff are entitled to 26 weeks of Maternity Leave, subject to the condition that such person has rendered at least 80 days of service in the previous 12 months preceding the date of expected delivery, as provided for in the Maternal Benefit (Amendment) Act,”.

On a contract basis, Dr. Swetha worked as a Senior Resident in the Department of Medicine at ESIC Hospital. On July 24, 2018, she enlisted in the military. She applied for maternity leave after 125 days of service in November 2018, but her request was denied.

She filed a motion with the Court, citing an office memorandum dated January 1, 2018 that governs maternity leave for those employed on a contract basis at ESIC-run institutions.

In this case, the Court noted that the petitioner requested maternity leave for 26 weeks in November 2018, which ended on May 19, 2019, and that she gave birth on December 24, 2018. According to the Court, the petitioner was entitled to maternity leave despite the office memorandum dated January 11, 2018, because she had completed 80 days of service at the time maternity leave was requested.

As a result, the court granted the petitioner’s request and overturned the ruling denying maternity leave.

“The Writ Petition is granted, and respondent No.5’s impugned decree is quashed. The petitioner’s request for leave from 26.11.2018 to 19.05.2019 has been approved, and he will be deemed “on duty” throughout that time. In addition, the petitioner is entitled to all incentives to which she is entitled “Added the Court.

The petitioner was represented by Ameet Kumar Deshpande, an attorney. The Union government was represented by lawyer Sudhirsingh R Vijapur, while ESIC Medical College was represented by advocate Sanjeev Kumar C Patil.