Supreme Court Rejects Menstrual Leave Plea: What Happens Next?

The Supreme Court of India directed the central government to consult with relevant stakeholders to develop a comprehensive policy for menstrual leave in the workforce.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
menstrual leave

Representative Image from iStock

The Supreme Court of India declined to hear a plea seeking menstrual leave in the workforce, stating that this may lead to a bias against employing women. On the flip side, the bench led by the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud directed the Central government to collaborate with State governments and other relevant stakeholders to formulate a model policy on menstrual leave. The court highlighted that this is a policy decision that falls under the purview of the central and State governments.


Supreme Court's Stance On Menstrual Leave

CJI Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra stated that the menstrual leave policy was not an issue for the court to look into and instead instructed the Centre to take action. Additionally, the bench added that the leave could be more detrimental to women in the workforce than beneficial.

The court asked the petitioner how the menstrual leave would encourage more women to be a part of the workforce. The bench noted that it would instead be counterproductive as leave will lead to women "being shunned from the workforce". The bench added, "...we do not want that.” 

“Petitioner says that a representation was submitted to the Centre in May 2023. Since the issues raise multifarious objectives of state policy, there is no reason for this court to intervene in light of our previous order,” the judges noted. The petitioner was permitted to move the secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

In February too, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain a similar PIL that sought to compel all states to establish rules for granting menstrual leave to female students and working women at their respective workplaces. The court stated a similar reason to reject the litigation.

The petitioner noted that only two state governments in India had a menstrual leave policy. The SC had said, "If you compel employers to provide paid menstrual leave to women, it may impact their business or serve as a disincentive, and they might avoid taking in a large number of women employees."

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