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Indian Bank Withdraws ‘Discriminatory’ Certificate Format for Pregnant Women

The revised format enquired on pregnancy status along with a woman's history of uterus, cervix, or breast diseases.

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The Indian Bank on Tuesday, 19 July, said that it has removed questions inquiring of a woman’s pregnancy from its medical certificate after the Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) termed the guidelines “discriminatory.”

The DCW summoned Indian Bank for its alleged refusal to withdraw “discriminatory” guidelines against the recruitment of women.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal also wrote to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and sought urgent intervention in the matter.

Pointing out that they have learnt that such women would be considered “temporarily unfit” and would be denied immediate joining, Maliwal observed that the delay would subsequently lead to loss of seniority for the women.

“This is a very serious matter. The alleged action of the bank appears to be discriminatory and illegal as it’s contrary to the maternity benefits provided under ‘The Code of Social Security 2020.’ Further, it discriminates on the basis of sex which is against fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.”
DCW Chief Swati Maliwal.
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The panel had taken suo-moto cognisance of the matter amid reports of the bank preventing women who are “more than three-month pregnant” from joining service, despite being selected through due process.

Meanwhile, the bank on Tuesday said the medical fitness certificate is taken from all candidates, including women, to ensure that they can be provided suitable postings.

The financial institution further asserted that it has always been a “progressive” bank which uses a proactive approach towards care and empowerment of female employees, who comprise of almost 29 percent of its workforce.

The bank, 20 June, said that it had issued a clarification that with a fitness certificate from registered medical practitioner certifying them fit for employment, candidates are allowed to join during pregnancy even after 12 weeks.

"Further, in case any candidate is seeking extension on account of pregnancy, the bank is considering the request favourably," Indian Bank said in a statement.

On Monday, the women rights body said that the Indian Bank had informed them of the revision in its fitness format to rule out any "ambiguity on eligibility,” which would seek a pregnancy status with the woman’s history of cervix, ovary, breast or uterus diseases.
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The revised format seeks the pregnancy status of women along with their history of diseases of the uterus, cervix, ovaries or breasts, it had said.

"Apparently, the revised format also discriminates against women as it seeks details of women-specific diseases while there is no mention of male-specific diseases," the DCW said.

Subsequently, the bank claimed that it had been “misinterpreted,” and added, “The pregnancy-related details are sought from female candidates only with an intent to provide suitable postings to the candidates so that they can avail better medical facilities in case of need.”

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