The Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 28 slammed a DU college for dismissing an ad hoc assistant professor on the grounds of maternity leave. The Supreme Court said on record that “having a child is no reflection on a woman’s professional ability.”
Manisha Priyadarshini has been working as an ad hoc assistant professor in different DU colleges. For the last six years, her contract was getting renewed after every six months. Her last renewal happened when she was working with Aurobindo College back in November 2018. In January last year, Mrs. Priyadarshini sought maternity leave for four months due to some pregnancy-related complications. She gave premature birth to a daughter, but she was dismissed in March.
A Delhi High Court bench that comprised of Justices Asha Menon and Hima Kohli imposed a cost of 50,000 Rs on the college. The college appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court. An SC bench headed by Justices Indira Banerjee and DY Chandrachud said, “Maternity leave cannot be a ground for termination of services. Having a child is not a reflection on a woman’s professional ability whether she is in the Army, Navy, judiciary, teaching, or bureaucracy. We will not allow termination on this ground.”
When Santosh Kumar, the counsel for the college, said that the cost imposed on the college should be waived, the Supreme Court argued that Mrs. Priyadarshini “must have spent quite a spent in litigation” and that 50,000 is also not enough in a city like Delhi. “Imposition of cost is a good way of reducing frivolous litigation,” the Court said. “It is important for the Supreme Court to start imposing costs.” The Supreme Court also commended the Delhi High Court for its judgement.
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