The Madras High Court has ruled that a government employee who gives birth to two or more babies in her first delivery is not entitled to maternity benefits in her second one, The Hindu reported on Tuesday.

The judgement set aside an order passed by a single-judge bench in June 2019 that had granted 180 days of paid maternity leave to a Central Industrial Security Force sub-inspector for her second delivery in 2017. She had already had twins in 2015. The Union Home Ministry had challenged the order, contending that the maternity rules of the Tamil Nadu government would not apply in her case.

Passing the judgement in a hearing last week, the first division bench of the court led by Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi said, “When twins are born they are delivered one after the other, and their age and their inter-se elderly status is also determined by virtue of the gap of time between their arrivals, which amounts to two deliveries and not one simultaneous act.”

The bench pointed out that the benefits under the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, only applied to women “with less than two surviving children”. The bench said the intention of the rule makers was to “restrict the pecuniary benefits depending upon the number of children and not number of deliveries”. Hence, mothers who gave birth to twins, triplets or quadruplets in the first delivery will not be entitled to full paid maternity leave for their next delivery, the bench said.

The bench said that the judge who passed the June 2019 order appeared to have extended the benefits “erroneously”, without taking note of the rules.

Speaking about the mathematical precision that is defined in the rules about maternity benefits, the bench said the admissibility of benefits would be limited if the claimant did not have more than two children, PTI reported. “This fact therefore changes the entire nature of the relief which is sought by the woman petitioner, which aspect has been completely overlooked by the single judge,” the bench added.