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LAND MARK JUDGEMENT ON CHILD CARE LEAVE TO DEPRIVED WOMEN EMPLOYEES

LAND MARK JUDGEMENT ON CHILD CARE LEAVE TO DEPRIVED WOMEN EMPLOYEES


CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL CHANDIGARH BENCH

ORIGINAL APPLICATION NO.931-CH-2011
Chandigarh, this the 30th day of September, 2011

CORAM: Hon'ble Mrs. Shyama Dogra, Member (J). Hon'ble Mrs. Promilla Issar, Member (A).

Mrs. Aarti Rani, wife of Shri Ashwani Kumar, aged 39 years, presently working as Postal Assistant in Post Office Sector-15, Chandigarh (U.T.)-160015.
Applicant
Versus
1. Union of India through Secretary, Ministry Communication & Information Technology, Department of Posts, Dak Bhawan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi-110016.
2. Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Chandigarh Division, Sector-17, GPO Building, Chandigarh (UT)-160017.
Respondents

Present: Sh. D.R. Sharma, the counsel for the applicant.
Sh. Rohit Sharma, vice Sh. Deepak Agnihotri, the counsel for the respondents.

O R D E R(Oral)
By Hon'ble Mrs. Shyama Dogra, Member (J):-

1. This is a second round of litigation by the applicant for quashing of impugned order Annexure A-1 dated 30.8.2011 whereby, her request to grant her child care leave has been rejected by the respondents.
2. The claim of the applicant is that Govt. of India issued office memorandums dated 11.9.2008 and 07.9.2010. Under those memorandums, women employees having minor children are to be granted Child Care Leave (CCL for short) for a maximum of two years during their entire service period for taking care of up to two children till the age of 18 years for the purpose of their care and taking care of any of their needs like examinations, sickness etc. It is submitted by the learned counsel for the applicant that the applicant has twins, who are pursuing their studies in 10+1, Non-Medical. Since the husband of the applicant is posted at a far-away place in Amritsar, the applicant has to look after these two children, therefore, she had applied for child care leave, which has been denied by the respondents by passing a non-speaking order. Aggrieved by that order, the applicant had filed an O.A and her case was remanded to the respondents to re-examine the matter afresh and pass speaking orders. Impugned order annexure A-1 is an outcome of those directions given by the Court.
3. While challenging this impugned order, the main contention of the applicant is that since these office memorandum are for the purpose of giving some relief to eligible women employees to enable them to look after their children properly, therefore, the respondents should not have rejected her request for CCL, keeping in view the fact that earlier also she was granted this leave for three months when the applicant had to look after her children during their final examination. It is not denied by the applicant that this special child care leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right, yet the fact remains that this leave is to be granted for a particular purpose as mentioned in these instructions, therefore, if the applicant is not granted this leave the whole purpose of this scheme formulated for the benefit of women employees will be defeated. The learned counsel for the applicant submits that the applicant will not be able to take this leave after 2013 as her children will become major by that time and their exams would be over.
4. The learned counsel for the applicant has also objected to the findings given by the competent authority with regard to shortage of staff in Chandigarh Postal Division on the ground that earlier also the applicant was posted to other post offices in Sector 36 and sector 44 which falsify the plea of the respondents that there is a shortage of staff as the applicant at present also is working in sector-15 Post office. She has categorically mentioned that out of the total strength of 486 permanent posts of postal assistants, 455 postal assistants are on the rolls, hence there is no shortage of staff and in case she is granted CCL, there is still a provision for appointment of an incumbent against a leave vacancy and the respondents can make necessary arrangements for such period for which the applicant has applied for CCL.
5. The respondents have filed a written statement and have supported the impugned order on the ground that the applicant has not exhausted all the departmental remedies before coming to this Court, therefore, this O.A. is premature and liable to be dismissed as she can still file a representation to the higher authority against the impugned order Annexure A-1. The respondents have also categorically mentioned that grant of CCL cannot be asked for as a matter of right by the women employees and it can only be granted under special circumstances and she was also granted this leave during the final examination of her children and therefore, it cannot be said that the respondents are not considerate to women employees in the matter of grant of CCL. The plea of the applicant for grant of this leave has been rejected by the competent authority in view of the instructions of DOPT dated 18.11.2008 (R/2) in the interest of smooth functioning of the office and keeping in view that if CCL is granted in routine, then the office work would suffer in various departments. Since the applicant has not mentioned any valid reason for grant of this leave, therefore, there is no illegality in passing of the impugned order Annexure A-1, which is fully supported with reasons and the same is liable to be upheld.
6. The applicant has filed a rejoinder and reiterated the submissions as made in the O.A.
7. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and carefully gone through the record.
8. The instructions issued by the respondents on 11th September, 2008 and clarifications issued later on, clearly envisage that CCL cannot be demanded as a matter of right but the fact remains that this benefit has been given to the women employees to facilitate them so that they can devote adequate time to the care of their minor children upto the age of 18 years, which may be for the purpose of their up-bringing to look after any of their specific needs like examinations, sickness etc. This leave can be granted for a maximum of 3 spells in a year.
9. Therefore, once a particular scheme is introduced by the employer for the benefit of its employees, it should be implemented in a fair and rational manner and we are of the view that the respondents need not have completely rejected the request of the applicant for CCL as she needs this leave for the purpose of devoting some extra time to her minor children. Instead of completely rejecting her request, the respondents should have considered sympathetically her prayer for grant of CCL around the examination time.
10. Therefore, in our considered opinion, the matter requires re-examination. Thus, the impugned order dated 30.8.2011 (Annexure A-1) is hereby quashed and set aside while giving directions to the respondent concerned to consider sympathetically the prayer of the applicant for grant of CCL in different spells during and around the examination period of her children. Needful be done within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
11. With these directions as above, this O.A. stands disposed of with no orders as to costs.


(PROMILLA ISSAR) (SHYAMA DOGRA)
MEMBER (A) MEMBER (J)

Place: Chandigarh.
Dated: 30.9.2011.

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