Surrogate moms too have maternity leave right: Orissa HC

The ruling came in connection with the case of an OFS officer Supriya Jena who was denied the 180 days maternity leave as she became a mother through surrogacy.
Image for representational purpose only.
Image for representational purpose only.

CUTTACK: In a significant ruling, the Orissa High Court has held that employees who become mothers through surrogacy have the same right to maternity leave as provided to natural and adoptive mothers.

The court directed the government to incorporate this aspect in the relevant provisions of the rules to treat a child born out of surrogacy in the similar manner as a child born out of the natural process and provide the commissioning mother with all the benefits provided under the norms.

The ruling came in connection with the case of an Odisha Finance Service (OFS) officer Supriya Jena who was denied the 180 days maternity leave as she became a mother through surrogacy.

While quashing the orders against sanction of 180 days maternity leave to the OFS officer, the single judge bench of Justice SK Panigrahi said, “If the government could provide maternity leave to an adoptive mother, it would be wholly improper to refuse to provide maternity leave to a mother who had begotten a child through surrogacy procedure. Maternity leave should be granted to employees who become mothers through surrogacy to ensure treatment and support for all new mothers, irrespective of how they become parents.”

Observing that right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to motherhood and also, the right of every child to full development, Justice Panigrahi also said, “Recognising and supporting surrogacy as a legitimate means of becoming a parent aligns with India’s progressive stance on reproductive rights and gender equality. Providing maternity leave for these mothers ensures that they have the necessary time to create a stable and loving environment for their child, promoting the well-being of both the mother and the child.”

“Moreover, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which aims to protect the employment of women during maternity and ensure their full health, should be interpreted in an inclusive manner that encompasses all forms of motherhood,” Justice Panigrahi further said.

Supriya joined the Orissa Finance Service on July 6, 1995. She served in different departments of the state government and was joint director (accounts) in Gopabandhu Academy of Administration, Bhubaneswar. Presently, she is functioning as the financial advisor of Odisha State Police Housing Welfare Corporation, Bhubaneswar.

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