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SC refuses to consider plea seeking menstrual leave

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a petition seeking menstrual leave for women employees. The court said that this is not a matter that the court should consider. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that making such leaves mandatory would drive women away from the workforce.

The bench said that we do not want whatever we are trying to do for the safety of women to be detrimental to them. The bench also comprises Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra. Chief Justice Chandrachud said that although this policy may encourage women to participate more in the workforce, its flip side is that it may discourage employers from including women in their workforce.

The bench said that this is actually a policy aspect of the government and should not be looked into by the courts and the matter needs to be looked into by the Union of India and the states. However, the bench asked the central government to consult with all the concerned stakeholders and state governments to formulate an ideal policy on the matter. The bench said that this matter is related to many policy aspects and there is no reason for the court to intervene in it. The bench said in its order that we allow the petitioner to file a petition before the Secretary in the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

It also said that a copy of the petition should be shared with Additional Advocate General Aishwarya Bhati, who has assisted the court in other similar cases. The bench said in its order that we request the Secretary (Ministry of Women and Child Development) to look into the matter at the policy level and take a decision after consulting all stakeholders (both central and state) and see if an ideal policy can be formulated. The bench said that its order will not prevent any state government from taking appropriate decision keeping in mind the welfare of the concerned employees. In February this year, the Supreme Court had taken a similar stand on a petition seeking directions to all states to make rules for menstrual leave for female students and employees. The Supreme Court had said that this matter falls in the policy area. At present, Bihar and Kerala are the only two states in the country that have provision for menstrual leave.