Neera Mathur v. Life Insurance Corporation of India

Mrs. Neera Mathur had applied to work at Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). Upon clearing the written test and the interview, she was asked to fill a declaration form disclosing personal facts as to pregnancy (if any) and her menstrual cycle. Further, she was required to undergo a medical examination as prescribed by LIC. She submitted her declaration and also underwent a medical examination and was certified as being fit for the job. Thereafter, her training program commenced and on its completion, she received an appointment letter with the stipulation that she would be on probation for the first six months and her appointment would be confirmed subject to her performance being satisfactory. During her probation she applied for maternity leave which was granted. On her return to service she was discharged from employment on the grounds that her service was not satisfactory and that she had failed to disclose personal facts as to her pregnancy and menstruation in her declaration form. Mrs. Mathur appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that her right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution had been violated by the arbitrary order of discharge. The Supreme Court ordered LIC to re-instate Mrs. Mathur and set aside the order of discharge on the grounds that there was no evidence to prove that her performance was unsatisfactory and the only reason for termination was her failure to disclose personal facts in her declaration that are not required to be disclosed to an employer. The Court stated that while India is moving forward to achieve the constitutional guarantee of equal rights for women, LIC seemed not to be moving with time. It further recommended that LIC delete such requirements from its declaration form and made a note of the fact that if one indirectly seeks to evade providing maternity leave and benefits to a female candidate by not hiring her if she is pregnant at the time of entering the service, the same may be open to a constitutional challenge.



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