The Bombay high court today pulled up the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for not considering the plea of a woman employee who had sought child-care leave as prescribed by the government norms, to take care of her daughter who suffers from learning disability.
"We are surprised at the adversarial stand of the AAI ....We are shocked by the attitude of the AAI. As an employer you should have taken a sympathetic approach," said the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Anil Memon.
The court was hearing a petition filed by S Mangala, Deputy General Manager (Aviation Safety), AAI, seeking implementation of child care leave norms recommended in the Sixth Pay Commission in 2008.
The Judges reserved the order after hearing both sides.
Mangala approached the High Court after her request for leave for attending to her 12-year-old daughter was rejected.
Ajay Khaire, AAI's counsel, argued its policy did not cover the child care leave. "We have increased the maternity leave from 135 days to 180 days. But, there is no provision of child care leave," said Khaire.
Ravi Shetty, counsel for the Ministry of Civil Aviation, submitted that several public sector undertakings have their own policy and they do not follow the Centre's guidelines.
But the HC felt that AAI should have been more considerate. "It is a genuine request. Her child has special needs. Is it not the duty of the employer to be considerate?" asked Justice Kanade.
AAI has initiated disciplinary action against the petitioner for going on leave without approval. Unhappy with this, Justice Kanade remarked, "She is seeking leave for her child. Is it a crime? She went on leave for what purpose? See the context."
Mangala's petition says the union government in September 2008 introduced `child care leave' on the recommendation of the Sixth Pay Commission.
Accordingly, a woman employee can take upto two years' paid leave until the child is 18 years old.
AAI, in 2011, put into force two other provisions, namely increasing maternity leave from 135 days to 180 days and increasing from one year to two years the other leave in continuation with the maternity leave, but not the child-care leave facility, it says.