SC seeks Centre’s reply plea against Maternity Benefit Act proviso

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The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of a provision of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

Section 5(4) of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 entitles maternity period benefits for a period of 12 weeks to only those mothers who are adopting a child below the age of three month. The plea contended that the provision was contrary not only to the scheme and object of the Maternity Benefit Act, but also in conflict with the letter and spirit of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act, 2015.

After hearing arguments, a bench of Justices S.A. Nazeer and Krishna Murari issued notices to the Ministry of Law and Justice, and the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

The plea claimed that Section 5(4) apart from being discriminatory and arbitrary towards the adoptive mothers, also arbitrarily discriminates against orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered children above the age of three months.

The plea filed by Karnataka resident Hamsaanandini Nanduri challenging the constitutional validity of Section 5(4) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

The petition argued that purported 12 weeks of maternity benefit to adoptive mothers, when compared with 26 weeks maternity benefit provided to biological mothers, fails to stand even the basic scrutiny of Part III of the Constitution.

–IANS

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