Madras High Court
Madras High Court
Litigation News

Central Government employee not entitled to maternity benefit for birth of third child after twins: Madras High Court

The ruling was passed in view of Rule 43 of the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, which limits the grant of maternity leave with pay only to employees having less than two surviving children

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court recently ruled that a central government employee who had given birth to a third child, after the birth of twins during her first delivery, was not entitled to maternity leave with pay.

This was in view of Rule 43 of the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, (“Civil Service Rules") which limits the grant of maternity leave with pay only to employees having less than two surviving children.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising of of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad passed the ruling upon finding that,

… the Rule under interpretation clearly spells out that the benefit would be available only if the claimant has not more than two children.
Madras High Court

The CISF employee before the Court had sought the grant of maternity benefits in view of the birth of her third child. Earlier, she had given birth to twins.

Whereas she had availed leave for her second pregnancy, the question was whether she would be entitled to pay during the term of maternity leave as well.

A single judge of the High Court had ruled in the employee’s favour, inter alia, on the basis of State policy on maternity benefits.

The Central Government challenged this ruling, contending, inter alia, that the law applicable in this case were the Central Civil Service rules and not the State’s rules. Rule 43 of the Central Civil Service rules states,

"(1) 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. (2) During such period, she shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave…"

Section 43 of the Central Civil Service rules

The Government argued that the number of children governs the pecuniary benefits available, as per this rule. In effect, it was the Centre’s case that since the woman employee already had two surviving children, she was not entitled to the maternity benefit sought for during her second pregnancy.

On the other hand, it was argued for the woman employee that her case was an exceptional one, for which the maternity leave with pay should be given.

The Division Bench however, ruled in favour of the Central Government, opining that,

… we find that a second delivery, which, in the present case, has resulted in a third child, cannot be interpreted so as to add to the mathematical precision that is defined in the Rules. The admissibility of benefits would be limited if the claimant has not more than two children.
Madras High Court

The Court further noted,

“Even otherwise it is debatable as to whether the delivery is not a second delivery but a third one, inasmuch as ordinarily when twins are born they are delivered one after another, and their age and their inter-se elderly status is also determined by virtue of the gap of time between their arrivals, which amounts to two deliveries and not one simultaneous act…”

Madras High Court

In view of these observations, the Court allowed the Centre’s appeal.

However, the Government was advised to take a call on whether it can grant any relaxation in the matter. The Court said,

“…in the event, the appellants have any power to grant any relaxation in exceptional circumstances, then, in that view of the matter, a natural happening that gives rise to exceptional facts as presently involved, may be a matter worth consideration, as it entails financial consequences which ultimately results in deprivation of benefits to the new born child who is no way concerned either with the framing of Rules or the choice of parents to have a child. The authorities would be therefore well advised to take an appropriate decision in the matter.”

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