According to Live Law, the Supreme Court turned down a Public Interest Lawsuit (PIL) on Friday that asked the court to order all states to establish policies governing menstruation discomfort leave for female students and working women at their places of employment.
A court panel presided over by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud noted that the subject falls under the purview of government policy. The bench, which also included Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, suggested that the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development be consulted before making a decision.
“Having regard to the policy dimension in the case, the petitioner may approach the Women and Child Development Ministry to file a representation,” it stated
Shailendra Mani Tripathi, a Delhi-based petitioner, submitted it. He requested guidance from the Center and the States regarding Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 compliance.
One intervenor had argued throughout the hearing that allowing for menstrual leave may deter businesses from hiring female professionals. If it were true that employers were required to provide menstruation leave, the CJI commented, it may dissuade them from hiring any women at all.
The petition also drew attention to the Women’s Sexual, Reproductive, and Menstrual Rights Bill, which Congress MP Shashi Tharoor of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, introduced in 2018. The bill called for public institutions to provide women with free sanitary pads while they are on their property.
According to Live Law’s citation of the petition,“The United Kingdom, Wales, China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain, and Zambia are already providing with menstrual pain leave in one form or another…Delhi High Court directed Centre and Delhi Government to consider PIL seeking menstrual leave as representation. Union Minister Smt. Smriti Irani in a written reply in Lok Sabha said that the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules 1972 o not have any provisions for menstrual leave and presently there.”
Spain has made history by becoming the first nation in Europe to grant paid menstruation leave to employees. Japan, Indonesia, South Korea (which offers “physiologic leave” under which women can take a day’s absence), Taiwan, Zambia, and Vietnam are a few more nations that have menstrual leave policies in place.