The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a PIL seeking direction to all state governments to frame rules for menstrual pain leaves for female students and working women.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala observed that if the employers are compelled to grant menstrual leave, it may become an impediment in the hiring of women employees.
The bench asked advocate Shailendra Mani Tripathi, petitioner, to approach the Ministry of Women and Child Development with his plea. “This is a policy matter, so we are not dealing with it,” said the bench.
The plea, filed by advocate Shailendra Mani Tripathi, said: “Few states provided menstrual pain leaves and ancillary benefits, women in their counterpart states are still bereft of any such benefits. It is accordingly a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution inasmuch as the Maternity Benefit Act differentiates women in the name of federalism and state policies.”
The plea contended that Bihar introduced menstrual Leave for women employees in 1992, however menstrual periods have been largely disregarded by society, government, and other stakeholders, but some organisations and states have taken notice of it. The plea pointed out there are several companies, especially startups, in India which are offering period leave, even without any legal obligation.
It further added that despite the fact that women suffer from similar physiological and health issues during their menstrual cycles, they are being treated differently in different states of India.
The plea cited that the UK, Wales, China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain, and Zambia, are already providing menstrual pain leave in one form or another.
It further added that the Clinical Evidence Handbook pointed out 20 per cent of women suffered from symptoms like cramps, nausea, etc., that are debilitating enough to hamper daily activities.
The plea said according to research by the University College London, the pain a female experiences while menstruating is equivalent to the pain a person experiences during a heart attack.