The Madras High Court has held that a woman employee will not be entitled to maternity benefits under the Central Civil Service Rules for the third child in the second delivery after twins in the first delivery.
The Rules restricted maternity benefits to those employees with less than two surviving children.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad said,
"We find that a second delivery, which, in the present case, has resulted in a third child, cannot be interpreted so as to add to the mathematical precision that is defined in the Rules."
The appeal was filed by the Union Government against the judgment dated 18.06.2019 of a single bench which directed the extension of maternity benefits for the third child as well.
The case of the employee was governed by Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules 1972.
Rule 43 of the said Rules stated :
" 43(1) A female Government servant (including an apprentice) with less than two surviving children may be granted maternity leave by an authority competent to grant leave for a period of 180 days from the date of its commencement."
43(2) During such period, she shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave..."
The respondent, in this case, contended that the claim was being made in respect of the second delivery giving birth to a third child.
"There is no dispute that the respondent / writ petitioner has not been denied leave, but the dispute is only with regard to the pecuniary emoluments of the said period on the ground that Rule 43 of Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, extracted herein above does not authorise the payments unless the pre-condition is fulfilled viz., that such benefit would be extendable unless the claimant has not more than two surviving children", the court opined.
The counsel for the respondent also contended that the second delivery of a third child to be treated as an exceptional case for extending the benefits of the maternity leave Rules. Further, it was also contended that 180 days of benefit with emoluments should be extended.
The court opined that,
"We find that a second delivery, which, in the present case, has resulted in a third child, cannot be interpreted so as to add to the mathematical precision that is defined in the Rules. The admissibility of benefits would be limited if the claimant has not more than two children."
" The Rule under interpretation clearly spells out that the benefit would be available only if the claimant has not more than two children."
The court said that the Single Judge in the impugned judgment erroneously extended the benefit to the respondent without taking notice of the appropriate Rules.
" When twins are born they are delivered one after another, and their age and their inter-se elderly status is also determined by virtue of the gap of time between their arrivals, which amounts to two deliveries" added the court.
While setting aside the impugned judgment the court opined that,
" The appellants have any power to grant any relaxation in exceptional circumstances, then, in that view of the matter, a natural happening that gives rise to exceptional facts as presently involved may be a matter worth consideration, as it entails financial consequences which ultimately results in deprivation of benefits to the newborn child who is no way concerned either with the framing of Rules or the choice of parents to have a child."
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