Delhi High Court appoints amicus curiae in 3-month-old’s plea for right to maternal care

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In a plea moved by a 3-month-old toddler seeking the right to maternal care after his mother was denied maternity leave by her employer, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), the Delhi High Court has appointed Advocate Shahrukh Alam as amicus curiae.

The toddler, also a third child of his parents, moved the instant writ petition invoking Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India through his counsel to seek the care of his parents. It was argued in toddler's plea that he is solely dependent on his mother's feed for his survival and his rights are violated for no fault of him being the third child.

A division bench of Justice Najmi Waziri and Swarna Kanta Sharma, while considering the urgency of the case, stated, “There is urgency in the matter, especially because at his tender age the petitioner suffers irreparably when with each passing day he is deprived of his mother’s care.”

Court further noted that some of the respondents hadn’t filed their replies despite accepting notices on March 3, 2022, and therefore, ordered payment of costs.

“They seek and are granted one last opportunity to file the same within two weeks, subject to payment of costs of ₹25,000 to be deposited with the Deputy Conservator of Forests (South), GNCTD,” directed the bench.

The bench was informed that toddler's mother worked for the NDMC and was denied maternity leaves under Rule 43(1) of Central Civil Services (Leave) (CCS) Rules, 1972, amended by an office memorandum dated June 20, 1988.

The NDMC is obligated to provide maternity leave only if the employee has less than two surviving children. The rule stipulates as follows:

“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.”

As a result, the petitioner brought an office order of the NDMC dated December 12, 2017, allegedly denying maternity leave, for the court’s scrutiny.

Court has listed the matter for further hearing on May 17, 2022.

Case Title: ‘X’ v. North Delhi Municipal Corporation & Ors.