The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday came down heavily on the Central Railways for not allowing maternity leave to its employee, a surrogate mother.
A division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice AR Joshi was hearing a petition filed by a 36-year-old lady who works as a nurse at a CR-run hospital.
She got married in 2004 and underwent IVF in 2007 on two occasions but lost her baby. In 2012, she was advised to try surrogacy that got over in 33 weeks.
The petitioner applied for maternity leave in January 2014 as she was expected to deliver in the first week of February.
In their reply, the railway authorities asked her if she had sought the permission from them before opting for surrogacy. She replied saying that she can claim maternity leave for surrogacy under the Indian Railways Establishment Board that provides for Child Adoptive Leave. However, she was not granted leave.
On January 29th last year, she delivered twins and again wrote a letter to the medical officer seeking leave under Child Care Leave. The officer forwarded it to the railways but the authorities remained silent on the matter.
The court on Tuesday rapped the Central Railways and asked 'why was the leave refused? If a mother who adopts a baby can get maternity leave of about 180 days then why is there no provision for surrogate mothers? Why should surrogate mothers be left out from maternity care?'
Government pleader Sandeep Shinde for the petitioner said 'the refusal of leave violates the right of the child to develop a bond with the mother.' The petitioner prays for maternity leave on equal footing as provided to mothers who adopt children under Child Care Leave.
The court has sent notice to the Central Railways and directed them to file a reply in four weeks.