Pregnancy cannot bar women from government jobs: Uttarakhand High Court

The court has rejected a rule that labeled pregnant women as 'temporarily unfit' for employment

The Uttarakhand High Court has ruled that denying employment to women due to pregnancy is unlawful. It invalidated a regulation that prohibited pregnant women from being considered eligible for government jobs, stressing that motherhood is a “great blessing”.

This decision follows a petition filed by Misha Upadhyay, who was refused the position of nursing officer at BD Pandey Hospital in Nainital because of her pregnancy. Despite receiving an appointment letter from the Director General of Medical Health and Family Welfare, the hospital declined her joining, citing a fitness certificate that declared her “temporarily unfit to join”, with no other health issues mentioned besides pregnancy.

The High Court rejected the state government’s regulation that categorized women who are 12 weeks or more pregnant as “temporarily unfit” for employment. Additionally, it mandated that a woman must undergo a medical examination by a registered practitioner six weeks after childbirth and present a fitness certificate. The court condemned this rule as “unconstitutional”, expressing strong disapproval.

The court considered the state’s action “extremely narrow against women” and said, “It is definitely a violation of Articles 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution.” The bench pointed out “the contradiction in denying employment based on pregnancy” while also recognising maternity leave as a fundamental right. The judge said, “If a situation is visualised that a woman who joins service on fresh appointment and becomes pregnant after joining would get maternity leave, then why can’t a pregnant woman join her duties on fresh appointment? After joining, she would also be entitled to maternity leave.”

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