Women Cannot Be Denied Govt Jobs Because Of Pregnancy: Uttarakhand HC

The Uttarakhand High Court struck down a rule that barred pregnant women from being qualified for government jobs. In another case, the Supreme Court recently of India ordered compensation for a woman who was fired from her job after marriage.

Tanya Savkoor
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The Uttarakhand High Court struck down a rule that barred pregnant women from being qualified for government jobs. The court's decision came in response to a petition filed by Misha Upadhyay, who was denied the post of nursing officer at BD Pandey Hospital in Nainital due to pregnancy. Despite an appointment letter being issued to her by the Director General of Medical Health and Family Welfare, the hospital declared her "temporarily unfit to join". The certificate stated no other health problems apart from pregnancy.


Emphasising pregnancy as a "great blessing", the Uttarakhand High Court bench struck down the State government's rule that denied government jobs to women who are pregnant for 12 weeks or more. The bench expressed “deep displeasure” over the rule and called it “unconstitutional".

Woman Denied Job On Grounds Of Pregnancy

The Uttarakhand government's rule deemed women who are pregnant for 12 or more weeks "unfit" for jobs. It also required women to be examined by a registered medical practitioner six weeks after the date of delivery and produce a certificate of fitness. However, the High Court stated the action was "extremely narrow against women."

The Court said, "(The rule) is definitely a violation of Articles 14 (Right to Equality), 16 (Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment), and 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution." The bench also pointed out "If a situation is visualised that a woman who joins service on fresh appointment and becomes pregnant after joining would get maternity leave, then why can't a pregnant woman join her duties on fresh appointment? After joining, she would also be entitled to maternity leave."

Recent Similar Case: SC Orders Compensation For Woman Army Nurse Terminated After Marriage

The Supreme Court of India directed the Centre to pay Rs 60 lakh compensation to a woman who was fired from her position as a military nurse in 1988 after she got married. According to LiveLaw, the apex court was hearing an appeal by the Centre challenging an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal that had called for the reinstatement of Lieutenant Selina John. 


After a 26-year-long battle, the two-judge bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta deemed Lt. Selina John's termination from the military a "coarse case of gender discrimination." They said, "Laws and regulations based on gender-based bias are constitutionally impermissible."

The bench said, "Acceptance of such a patriarchal rule undermines human dignity and right to non-discrimination, and highlighted the discriminatory nature of rules that consider marital status as a disqualifying factor for women employees... Such rule was ex-facie manifestly arbitrary, as terminating employment because the woman has got married is a coarse case of gender discrimination and inequality."

Lt John was appointed to the MNS of the Indian Army in 1982. However, she was removed from service by the Army in August 1988 because she got married in April of that year, the release order stated, citing the 1977 Army instruction, “Terms and conditions of service for the grant of permanent commissions in the Military Nursing Service”, which was later withdrawn in 1995.

In March 2016, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Lucknow, set aside John’s release order and directed her reinstatement with back wages. In August of that year, the Centre challenged the appeal in the top court. Dismissing the Centre’s appeal, the Justices Datta and Khanna said, “We are unable to accept any submission that the respondent – Ex. Lt. Selina John – could have been released/discharged on the ground that she had got married.”

Supreme Court of India Gender discrimination Uttarakhand High Court women's right to work