Delhi High Court has directed the Union of India to consider as a representation, a plea seeking period leave for women and facilities of periodic rests, separate and clean toilets and provision of sanitary napkins to woman employees during menstruation period.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the concerned authority to deal with the representation as early as practicable and in accordance with the law.
Contentions and Relief Sought by the Petitioner
Moved by Delhi Labour Union, the PIL for period leave for women seeks framing of a policy by the Delhi Government and the Central Government to provide special casual leave/paid leave as well as to ensure separate and clean toilet facilities, periodic rests and free sanitary napkins to women employees during their menstruation period.
The Petitioner for period leave for women has demanded the said benefit to be extended to women in employed in all sectors – organised and unorganised and doing any kind of skilled or unskilled labour. Including contractual or deportation female employees in the ambit of the period leave policy have also been asked for.
While grounding the relief in the physical pains experienced by women during menstruation, the petition for period leave for women states that:
‘In our society, menstruation and complications related to it are still considered as taboo; they are shrouded in overwhelming shame and inability of female employees to discuss their bodily functions and impairments openly. There is a stark absence of official recognition for this actual, tangible physical condition that only the female employees have to undergo every month. There is simply no opportunity or agency for female employees to frankly air their grievances and raise demands for menstrual benefits.’
The Petitioner has further argued that failure in providing facilities to menstruating employees is violative of Article 14, 21 and 42 of the Constitution. While arguing that the state can make special provisions for menstruating women under Article 15(3) of the Constitution, the petition states that:
‘Because menstruation is intrinsically related to human dignity. By not providing separate toilet facilities, separate breaks to maintain hygiene during menstruation, and paid leaves in form of special casual leaves; the Respondents are depriving the employees of their human dignity.’