The practice of surrogacy is still surrounded by stigma and disinformation, and one of the primary reasons for this is the long-standing absence of legislative frameworks.
Women employees of the central government who have a child through surrogacy will be entitled to maternity leave, according to an official order of the personnel ministry. They can get paid maternity leave of 26 weeks (about 180 days).
The ministry has written to all central government departments about a Delhi High Court order of 2015 on the issue. “All ministries/departments are advised to give wide publicity of its contents to the concerned officers,” the personnel ministry said in its latest directive to all the ministries and enclosed a copy of the court’s order with it.
The court verdict had come on a plea by a Kendriya Vidyalaya teacher who had twins through a surrogate mother but was denied maternity leave as she was not the biological mother. “A female employee, who is the commissioning mother, would be entitled to apply for maternity leave,” the court had held.
Based on material placed before it, the competent authority would decide on the timing and the period for which maternity leave ought to be granted to a commissioning mother who adopts the surrogacy route, the court said.
The scrutiny would be keener and detailed, when leave is sought by a female employee, who is the commissioning mother, at the pre-natal stage, it said. In case maternity leave is declined at the pre-natal stage, the competent authority would pass a reasoned order having regard to the material, if any, placed before it, by the female employee, who seeks to avail maternity leave, the court order said.
In a situation where both the commissioning mother and the surrogate mother are employees, who are otherwise eligible for leave (one on the ground that she is a commissioning mother and the other on the ground that she is the pregnant women), suitable adjustment would be made by the competent authority, it said.