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Policy on menstrual leave, Supreme Court hears PIL, directs govt to hold consultations


The Supreme Court of India has instructed the Central government to conduct stakeholder consultations

The Supreme Court of India has instructed the Central government to conduct stakeholder consultations regarding the formulation of a model policy for menstrual leave provisions for women employees. This directive came during proceedings led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, alongside Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra, in response to a petition by advocate Shailendra Tripathi.

The Court emphasized that the issue pertains to government policy and allowed petitioner to raise the matter with the Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The petition sought directions for Union Territories and States to establish policies granting menstrual leave to female employees. The top Court acknowledged varied perspectives on the matter, noting potential benefits in terms of workforce participation while also cautioning against unintended consequences such as possible discrimination against women.

Today's ruling concluded the PIL related to menstrual leave policy, directing the Ministry of Women to engage with stakeholders in crafting a potential policy framework. The Court clarified that its directive to the Central government to conduct consultations does not prohibit States from making independent decisions on menstrual leave.

Previously, the Court had disposed of a similar plea concerning menstrual pain leave for female students and employees nationwide, allowing petitioners to present their case to the Central government. In the present hearing, petitioner's counsel noted a lack of response to their representation, prompting reaffirmation by CJI Chandrachud that such matters are fundamentally within the purview of government policy, not judicial intervention.

In concluding remarks, the Court reiterated the complexities surrounding mandated menstrual leave and its potential implications for female employment, emphasizing that protective measures could inadvertently disadvantage women. Therefore, the Court advised petitioner to once again approach the government with his concerns, underscoring the policy-driven nature of the issue.