New Delhi, 24th February 2023: On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) refused to consider the petition to give paid leave to working women and girl students during menstruation. The petition sought a direction to all states to make rules for menstrual leaves for girl students and working women at their respective workplaces.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, said that people may refrain from giving jobs to women due to the compulsion of menstrual leaves. Noting that the issue falls within the policy purview of the government, the bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said that a plea may be made to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for taking a decision.

The petition, filed by Delhi resident Shailendra Mani Tripathi, has sought directions from the Center and all states to comply with Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

Section 14 of the Act states, “The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint such officers as it thinks fit to be Inspectors for the purposes of this Act and may define the local limits of the jurisdiction within which they shall exercise their functions under this Act.”

Petitioner’s advocate Vishal Tiwari had also sought urgent listing of the petition last week. The petition said that countries like the United Kingdom, China, Wales, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain and Zambia already have menstrual leaves.

It was said in the petition that during periods, women and girl students have to go through physical and mental difficulties. During this, many types of problems also have to be faced. In such a situation, an order should be passed regarding giving them leave during their period. The petition also referred to the 1961 Act, saying that it provides for almost all the problems faced by women.

The petition filed in the Supreme Court stated that these provisions of the law under the Maternity Benefit Act are one of the biggest steps taken by the Parliament or the people of the country to recognize and honour the motherhood of working women. However, even after having laws, they are not strictly followed.

Bihar is the only state in India providing two days of special menstrual leave to women since 1992. In 1912, the Government Girls’ School in Tripunithura, located in the then princely state of Kochi (present-day Ernakulam district), allowed students to take ‘period leave’ at the time of their annual examinations.