Supreme Court notice to Centre in challenge to provision of Maternity Benefit Act

  • Thyagarajan Narendran
  • 01:38 PM, 01 Oct 2021

Read Time: 04 minutes

Justice Abdul Nazeer however remarked that the Supreme Court cannot take over the litigation of the entire country.

A bench of  Justices Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari issued notice to the centre in a PIL filed challenging the vires of section 5 (4) of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, on ground that it makes maternity benefits of the adoptive mother conditional on the age of the child being adopted. 

Maninder Acharya, Senior Advocate, appeared for the petitioners.

Justice Nazeer remarked that despite the petition being just, the petitioners need to go before the High Court as the supreme court cannot take over the litigation of the entire country. Acharya replied to this stating that the even though this PIL was conceived before COVID-19, it has become more relevant after the pandemic.

She further submitted that many children have been orphaned because of the pandemic and changing this provision will incentivise adoption. She added that this provision needs to change since it is important for both adoptive mothers and the adopted children to get appropriate maternity benefits. Notice was issued in the matter upon conclusion of Acharya’s submissions.

The provision entitles mothers who are adopting a child below the age of three months, maternity period benefit for a period of 12 weeks from the date the child is handed over. The provision has been challenged on grounds that the  section does not take into consideration the procedure of adoption as envisaged in the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), and the Adoption Regulations, 2017.The petition further states that the provision is discriminatory against mothers who intend to adopt  older children and adolescents adding to the point that it creates a distinction between biological mothers and adoptive mothers.

The writ petition has been filed by  Hamsanandini Nanduri, an adoptive mother who is also a lawyer by profession.

Case title : Hamsanandini Nanduri Vs Union or India & Ors