The Supreme Court of India, on 28.10.2020, dismissed the Delhi High Court appeal, which reintroduced and upheld the cost of Rs. 50,000 from the service of an ad-hoc Assistant Professor at the Delhi University College.
A bench of Judges, DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, voiced severe concerns about the conduct of the college and argued that maternity needs to be an excuse to terminate services.
The bench observed that "Having a child is no reflection on a woman's woman's professional ability, whether she is in the Army, Navy, judiciary, teaching or bureaucracy. We will not allow termination on this ground".
The Court then rejected the appeal and upheld charges of Rs. 50,000 which had been levied on the college, while stating that the respondent had to expend quite an amount in the fight against the force of the college. Moreover, the imposition of charges was a good way to minimize unnecessary lawsuits.
The judgment of the High Court of Delhi by Justice Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, on which the appeal was based, was also commended by the Supreme Court.
The respondent worked as an Assistant Professor in Sri Aurobindo College (Evening) on a contracted appointment basis, which was extended every four-months with a one-day break. The last extension of the contract took place in November 2018, and the respondent demanded a four-month maternity leave in January 2019. The college, however, took her out of service in March.
The case was dealt with by the High Court of Delhi'sDelhi's Single-Judge Panel, which denied her appeal. However, the same was allowed on appeal to the Division Bench, and the Court observed that taking maternity leave could not be a valid basis for refusing the extension of the term of service.
The Court said that it would be violative of the basic principle of equality of law, and the protection to her under Article 21 was also deprived.