SC agrees to hear on Apr 28 plea challenging constitutional validity of provision of Maternity Benefit Act

The Supreme Court agreed to hear on April 28 a plea challenging the Constitutional validity of a provision of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 which states that a woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months would be entitled to maternity leave.

The petition submitted that the purported 12 weeks of maternity benefit to adoptive mothers is not only a “mere lip service but when juxtaposed with the maternity benefit of 26 weeks provided to biological mothers, fails to stand even the basic scrutiny of Part III of the Constitution which is wedded to the concept of non-arbitrariness.” A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala took note of the submissions of a lawyer who mentioned the matter seeking urgent hearing.

The top court on October 1, 2021 had issued notices to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Women & Child Development while seeking their responses on the PIL, which said Section 5(4) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was discriminatory and arbitrary.

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