Woman Becoming Mother Through Surrogacy Entitled To Leave: High Court

MUMBAI:  A woman who has attained motherhood through a surrogacy procedure is entitled to six months maternity leave like any other woman, the Bombay High Court has ruled.

“Having considered rules 551(C) and(E) of Child Adoption Leave and Rules, we find that a case is made out for grant of interim relief as there is nothing in these rules which would disentitle maternity leave to a woman who has attained motherhood through surrogacy procedure,” a bench of Justices Anoop Mohta and GS Kulkarni said in their order delivered on January 29.
Accordingly, the judges, granting interim relief, asked the Central Railway (CR) to grant 180 days maternity leave to its woman employee, who had filed the petition challenging the decision of authorities to reject her leave application.

The High Court, while asking the Central Railway to grant petitioner maternity leave, posted the matter for disposal on March 11.

The petitioner had approached the High Court after the CR refused to give her maternity leave on the ground that there was no provision in the rules to grant such leave in case of surrogacy mothers.

The petitioner got married in 2004 and for a long time she could not conceive a child. Hence, she decided to go in for the surrogacy procedure. Accordingly, an agreement was signed with a surrogate mother.

When the surrogate mother completed 33 weeks of pregnancy, the petitioner applied for maternity leave, but her application was rejected by the CR. Being aggrieved, she moved the High Court.

Counsels for the petitioner, Sandeep Shinde and Tanya Goswami, argued that if maternity leave was refused to the petitioner, it would violate the right of the child to develop a bond with the mother and would also not be compatible in society.