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Supreme Court Directs Centre to Frame Model Policy on Menstrual Leave

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday instructed the Centre to develop a model policy on menstrual leave for women employees, following consultations with states and other relevant stakeholders.

A bench composed of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra emphasized that the issue was a matter of policy rather than a judicial concern. The bench expressed concern that a court mandate on menstrual leave could be counterproductive and detrimental to women’s employment prospects.

“How will the leave encourage more women to be part of the workforce?” the court queried the petitioner, cautioning that mandating such leave might lead to women being “shunned from the workforce.” The bench added, “We do not want that. This is a government policy aspect and not for the courts to look into.”

The court acknowledged that a representation had been submitted to the Centre in May 2023. However, it maintained that the multifaceted nature of the issue necessitated policy-level intervention rather than judicial involvement. The bench allowed lawyer Rakesh Khanna, representing the petitioner, and lawyer Shailendra Tripathi to approach the Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati.

“We request the secretary to look into the matter at the policy level and take a decision after consulting all stakeholders to see if a model policy can be framed,” the court ordered.

The Supreme Court clarified that the Centre’s consultation process would not impede any initiatives taken by individual states regarding menstrual leave.

The court had previously dismissed a plea seeking menstrual pain leave for women students and working women nationwide, suggesting instead that a representation be made to the Centre. The petitioners noted that no decision had been taken by the Centre since the representation was submitted.

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