Almost a fortnight after the Kerala High Court upheld a woman’s fundamental right to dignity as a mother, the Madras High Court has now said it is the fundamental right of a lady to give birth to a child and nurture him and maternity leave period should be deemed to be the service period.

Justice N Kirubakaran has held that any rule or law which holds that maternity leave has to be excluded from the period of service is “null and void”, while emphasising on the importance of maternity leaves for proper rest post-delivery to enable a mother to become “real mother”.

“…it is not only the fundamental right of the lady to give birth to a child and also necessary for existence of mankind and without a lady, a child could not be born in the world. Even nature requires a child birth through a lady. When that is the position, the petitioner (a lady doctor in the instant case) cannot be denied the maternity leave and the period of maternity leave, which the petitioner availed, should not be kept apart or excluded from two years of service. Even in their two years of service, if maternity leave is sanctioned, the maternity leave period should be deemed to be the service period. Any rule or regulation which goes against the same is null and void,” said Justice Kirubakaran.

The court said so while granting relief to a lady doctor who was denied admission in a post-graduate course since she had gone on maternity leave during the mandatory two-year service period.