Fact of the Case
In the Instant Matter of Swornalata Dash v. State of Odisha, A writ suit was filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution by an assistant teacher asking the district education officer in Keonjhar to grant her the six-month maternity leave that had been refused. The petitioner was hired as an assistant teacher at the Practising Girls’ High School in Fakirpur, an institution of higher learning with government funding. According to the Orissa Education Order, 1994, the school was qualified for a grant-in-aid equal to 100% of the wage costs for both teaching and non-teaching employees. Block grants of grant-in-aid were given to the petitioner. She submitted a request for maternity leave on June 17, 2013, and on August 20, 2013, she gave birth to a girl. On December 14, 2013, she began her responsibilities and requested a punishment under the 2005 Right to Information Act. The DEO rejected, claiming that school personnel are exempt from all leave regulations and that maternity leave sanctions could not be taken into account. The petitioner requested guidance from the Court on the appropriate actions to be taken in order to approve maternity leave from June 17 to December 13, 2013.
Observation of the Court
The Orissa High Court’s Single Judge Bench, presided over by Justice Sashikanta Mishra, granted the case and ruled that the DEO’s refusal to approve the maternity leave was illegal and so could not be upheld.
The Court determined that the DEO’s 1994 and 2004 GIA Orders were irrelevant to maternity leave since they were more concerned with grant-in-aid payments than employee leave. Every working woman has an intrinsic entitlement to maternity leave, which cannot be legally rejected. The Court found it absurd to reject it since doing so would undermine the legal procedure and contradict Article 21 of the Constitution, which provides the right to a life of dignity. The Court granted the writ petition and instructed the DEO to approve the maternity leave claim within four weeks of notification of the ruling or the submission of a certified copy.
CASE NAME – Swornalata Dash v. State of Odisha, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 620 of 2015