A woman who adopted a child through surrogacy was equally eligible for maternity leave and other benefits,held the Madras High Court,directing the Chennai Port Trust to grant the leave to an employee who turned to surrogacy after losing her 20-year-old son to an accident.
The petitioner,an employee of the port trust,lost her son in a road accident on January 31,2009. As she could not bear a child herself,she entered into a surrogate arrangement. A girl child was born on February 8,2011. A day later,she applied for maternity leave and also to include the child in the family medical insurance scheme.
However,in December that year,a letter from the Union Shipping Minister informed her that the period of absence was considered as ordinary leave and that her surrogate child could not be included in the insurance scheme.
She then approached the court with a petition to set aside the rejection order and for a direction to the Chennai Port Trust to grant leave on equal footing in terms of Rule 3-A of the Madras Port Trust (Leave) Regulations,under which benefits were given to adoptive parents.
Justice K Chandru ruled on Monday that the petitioner was the mother of the child for all practical purposes. As the child was only one day old at the time of application,the adoptive mother was entitled for leave similar to those granted under Rule 3-A.
The purpose of the Rule was to ensure proper bonding between the child and parents. Even in the case of adoption,though the adoptive mother did not give birth to the child,the necessity of bonding of the mother with the adoptive child had been recognised by the central government,observed the judge. The court directed the port trust to treat the leave as under Rule 3-A and include the childs name in the insurance scheme.