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Maternity Leave Not a Break in Service: Jammu and Kashmir High Court

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The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has ruled that approved leave, including maternity leave, should not be considered a break in service.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar delivered these observations in response to a case involving six female banking associates who were denied promotion due to excluding maternity leave from their total service.

The petitioners, employed as banking associates in the J&K Bank for seven years, encountered promotion hurdles as the bank deducted their maternity leave period from the overall service calculation. This decision rendered them ineligible for promotion, which requires seven years of regular service under the “Seniority-cum-Selectivity Channel.”

Arguments put forward by both the Advocates

Jahangir Iqbal Ganaie, representing the petitioners, argued that maternity leave is sanctioned and should not be seen as a break in service. Excluding maternity leave from service, the calculation was deemed discriminatory against women employees, violating constitutional articles.

In defence, advocate Adil Asmi, representing J&K Bank, claimed that maternity leave, while sanctioned, does not constitute active service, and the promotion policy requires seven years of “actual regular service.”

The final stand taken by the Judge

Justice Kumar rejected the bank’s stance, emphasising that any employee on sanctioned leave, including maternity leave, is deemed to be in service. He labelled the exclusion of maternity leave as “arbitrary, discriminatory, and violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.”

The court directed J&K Bank to recognise maternity leave as regular service, making the petitioners eligible for promotion to the JMGS Scale-I Officers Cadre under the seniority-cum-selectivity channel.

This ruling establishes a precedent for the recognition of maternity leave as an active service, promoting equality in employment opportunities for women.

Proprietary blog of Karma Global – collated and compiled by the internal staff of Karma Global with the knowledge and expertise that they possess,  besides adaptation, illustration, derivation, transformation, collection and auto generation for its monthly newsletter Issue 20  of  February  2024  and in case of specific or general information or compliance updates for that matter, kindly reach out to the Marketing Team – /

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