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IAF Extends Release Date Of Woman Officer Till End Of Maternity Leave After Court Intervenes

IAF Maternity Leave, Women Agniveer Air Force
IAF Maternity Leave: A Squadron leader from the flying branch of the Indian Air Force was scheduled to get discharged on medical grounds today. She was also on her maternity leave. However, the Armed Forces Tribunal, which is a military court, has ordered the IAF to not release the officer, Anju Gehlot, as women employees cannot be discharged while they are on their maternity leave.

According to the justices Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen PM Hariz, hearing the case “As a special case and without setting any precedent in the matter, we direct that the applicant shall be permitted to be on the roll till March 11, 2022, and shall be released only after the maternity leave is over.”

The woman short service commissioned (SSC) officer gave birth to a premature baby in November this year. She is supposed to be on maternity leave till March 11, 2022. In January this year, she was reportedly placed in the low medical category which deemed her “permanently” unfit for flying and she was assigned ground duties since then. She joined the IAF in December 2010 and since she was commissioned as SSC, her duty was supposed to expire on March 17, 2024.

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However, reportedly she approached the military court stating that she was forcibly asked to leave on medical grounds, which would have been effective from today. According to the ANI report, the Air Force headquarters approved the Invalidating Medical Board (IMB) proceedings on December 10 this year. Her application to extend her termination date till her maternity leave finishes were also rejected.

Her counsel (retd) Colonel Indra Sen Singh said that after the officer was identified to be unfit for flying, she was supposed to be working on the ground but instead she was “subjected to IMB” and ordered to be released from duty.

The council also cited section 12 of the Maternity Benefit Act which prohibits an employer from discharging a woman employee during her time of leave. Singh also said, “In accordance with leave rules, Air Force women officers are entitled sox months’ maternity leave as a matter of right pre/post-delivery of a child, which has also been upheld by the Supreme Court.”