SC Directs Central Govt to Form Model Policy on ‘Menstrual Leave’

Menstrual Leave

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Government to develop a model policy on menstrual leave for women employees by consulting with states and other stakeholders.

A bench comprising CJI D Y Chandrachud along with Justice J B Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra stated that the matter pertains to government policy and is not within the court’s purview. The bench cautioned that judicial intervention in granting such leave could be counterproductive and “detrimental” to the cause, as employers might avoid hiring women.

The court questioned how the leave would encourage more women to join the workforce, noting that mandating such leave could lead to women “being shunned from the workforce.” “We do not want that,” the bench emphasized.

‘Policy Matter’: SC

The court clarified that this is a policy matter and not for judicial determination. It noted that while the petitioner had submitted a representation to the Centre in May 2023, the issues raised involve complex state policies, and thus, the court would not intervene as per its previous order.

However, the bench allowed lawyer Rakesh Khanna, representing the petitioner, and lawyer Shailendra Tripathi to approach the Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati.

The court asked the Secretary to review the matter at the policy level, consult all stakeholders, and determine whether a model policy can be established. It also made it clear that the Centre’s consultation process would not obstruct any actions taken by states in this regard.

Previous Hearing

Earlier, the Apex Court had disposed of a plea seeking menstrual pain leave for female students and working women across the country. It had ruled that the issue falls within the policy domain and suggested making a representation to the Centre. As of now, no decision has been taken by the Central Government.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte