Delhi women's rights body: Bank hiring rule on pregnant women 'illegal'

According to the media reports, a recent circular issued by the bank prevents women who are more than three-months pregnant from joining service, despite having been selected through due process

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, June 20, 2022, 03:03 PM IST
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Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal | Twitter/SwatiJaiHind

On Monday, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson, Swati Maliwal, has issued a notice to Indian Bank seeking the withdrawal of its new recruitment, which prevents women who are three or more months pregnant from immediately joining.

The DCW took suo moto cognizance of reports of the framing of new guidelines by the Indian Bank for the recruitment of staff.

News agency PTI quoted a circular issued by Indian Bank, which said, "A woman candidate, who as a result of tests, is found to be pregnant of 12 weeks' standing or over, should be declared temporarily unfit until the confinement is over. The candidate should be re-examined for a fitness certificate six weeks after the date of labour, subject to the production of a medical certificate of fitness from a registered medical practitioner."

In response, the Commission said that the alleged action of the bank is "discriminatory and illegal as it's contrary to the maternity benefits provided under 'The Code of Social Security, 2020'."

The objective of the Code on Social Security, 2020 is to amend and consolidate the existing labour laws relating to social security with the wider goal of extending social security benefits to all employees and workers irrespective of belonging to the organised or unorganised sector.

"Further, it discriminates on the basis of sex which is against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India," the DCW said.

According to the guidelines and criteria for physical fitness for pre-employment recently issued by Indian Bank, candidates would be re-examined six weeks after delivery for the appointment of the selected post.

"A woman candidate, who as a result of tests, is found to be pregnant of 12 weeks' standing or over, should be declared temporarily unfit until the confinement is over. The candidate should be re-examined for a fitness certificate six weeks after the date of labour, subject to the production of a medical certificate of fitness from a registered medical practitioner," it said.

In a statement, the DCW said it has also written a letter to the Reserve Bank of India on the issue.

In her letter, Maliwal has stated that banks like SBI and Indian Bank have issued anti-women guidelines and need to be specifically discouraged from doing so.

She has asked RBI Governor to intervene in the matter and issue directions to all banks in the country refraining them from making illegal and unconstitutional rules which discriminate against women.

The Commission has also requested the RBI Governor to conduct an enquiry into the matter and fix the accountability of the bank officials who have issued the sexist guidelines.

DCW was constituted in 1994 by the Government of Delhi under the Delhi Commission for Women Act, 1994, and it started functioning in 1996.

The primary agenda of the Commission is the investigation and examination of all matters relating to the safety and security provided to women under the Constitution and other laws.

The Commission is also committed to making recommendations for effective implementation of laws and to improve the conditions of women in Delhi.

The commission has various functions such as to "investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the constitution and other laws".

In certain matters the commission also acts as a quasi-judicial body. The commission has all the powers of a civil court trying suit in certain cases such as "summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examine him on oath" and "requiring the discovery and production of any document".

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