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Kerala HC reinstates woman terminated for going on maternity leave

The Kerala High Court has ordered reinstatement of  a contractual woman  employee whose services were terminated  on account of unauthorized absence, because she went on maternity leave .

"Only a woman knows how acutely difficult it is to balance motherhood and her career," said court while setting aside the termination and granting her reinstatement.

Vandana Sreemadha was employed as a counsellor at the Office of the District Child Protection Officer in Kollam on contract basis. She was first appointed to the post in 2016 and her employment contract was extended till August 21, 2020, one year at a time.

  Court said, “Life as a new mother is like being on a roller-coaster and being a working mother is tougher,”.

 Justice Devan Ramachandran said. “The minutiae of motherhood can never be properly contemplated and it involves navigation through myriad daily issues, which ultimately determine the health and future of the child.”

The judge said it was scientifically proven that a mother essentially had to be close to her child. “This, primarily and inter alia, is why the provisions for maternity leave are now internationally accepted,” he added.

 The plea of the govt. that in her last stint she went on leave  from Nov. 20  thus not making her entitled to maternity leave was turned down by the court.The court pointed out that the woman was on the job for several years, even though she took a one or two-day break whenever her contract was renewed.

Court observed, “Without requirement for any elaboration, this attitude is not one which this court can countenance in this century, when women essay several roles, take on variegated responsibilities and require to be adept multitaskers, to survive and find wings to achieve their legitimate ambitions.”