RBI Faces Rebuke: High Court Orders Compensation for Denied Maternity Leave to Intern

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court has ruled that there can be no discrimination between regular and contractual employees regarding maternity leave rights. This decision came as the court directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to compensate an executive intern who was denied maternity leave.

The petitioner, employed as an executive intern on a contractual basis with the RBI, moved the high court after being denied maternity leave with pay for 180 days. The court emphasized that maternity benefits must be extended equally to all female employees, regardless of their employment status.

Justice Raja Basu Chowdhury, in his judgment, stated that denying maternity benefits to the petitioner amounted to discrimination and violated Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The court directed the RBI to compensate the petitioner with leave and pay for the period she was denied maternity benefits.

The petitioner had applied for maternity leave in November 2012 due to medical advice for bed rest, but her request was rejected based on the terms of her contract. The court ruled that contractual terms cannot override the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, which ensures maternity benefits to all eligible women employees.

The advocate representing the petitioner argued that the Maternity Benefits Act supersedes employment contracts, while the advocate for the RBI highlighted the limited scope of the contract.

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