Express News Service
BENGALURU: A petition by a Bengaluru-based corporate lawyer and mother of two adopted children, who has questioned the maternity policy of the Central government that discriminates against adoptive mothers, led the Supreme Court to issue a notice to the Centre on Friday.
In her public interest litigation (Hamsaanandini Nanduri Vs Union of India), she has challenged a provision of the Maternity Benefit Act which says adoptive mothers are eligible for maternity leave only if they adopted children are below three months old.
She has also objected to the period of maternity leave as an adoptive mother gets 12 weeks, while a biological mother is granted 26 weeks. Hamsaanandini, who launched a campaign on change.org a few days ago and got signatures of 28,506, said, “I am grateful to the honourable court for seeing merit.”
‘No provision for maternity leave after adoption’
“I am eager to see how this progresses and truly hope that the law changes soon. I am hoping there is some answer by the (Union) government and the law is made equal for both, adoptive and biological mothers,” Hamsaanandini said. Hamsaanandini has first-hand experienced the pain of leaving the child alone in a new environment when both mother and child were trying to adjust to new situations.
Hamsaanandini said the process of adoption requires a lot of legal clearances and paperwork to ensure that the child is “legally free for adoption” by the Child Welfare Committee under the JJ Act, and cannot be completed in mere three months. There is no provision for maternity leave at all for a mother adopting an orphaned, abandoned or surrendered child above the age of three months.
She stated in her petition that such a law will lead to parents preferring to adopt newborn children as against older children. While several adoptive mothers signed her change.org petition, Shilpa Das, another such parent who is a marketing executive, found it challenging to ensure that her two-year-old daughter settled down.
She said, “I was told that extra leaves are given to biological mothers for the physical recovery after giving birth and then for the potential emotional inability to return to work. The time should not really be about the physical and emotional recovery of the parent, it should also be about the physical and emotional needs of the child.”