Suggesting that it would have adverse effects on family planning, the Supreme Court of India has asked the government to reconsider the extension of maternity perks to under privileged women.
"This, in a way, goes against the concept of family planning which is intended to curb the population growth," a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia were quoted. The bench also went against the government's decision to extend the maternity benefits under centrally sponsored schemes to women younger than 18, who are below the legal age of marriage.
The bench had earlier observed that such schemes couldn't be indefinitely funded at the cost of taxpayer's money without thinking of its impact on population problem. They were further quoted : "The Union of India shall consider this aspect while considering the desirability of the continuation of the scheme in the present form."
However the court has approved the Center's proposal to provide Rs 500 per birth irrespective of the number of children and age of such women.
The court urged the centre, the states and the union territories to continue with the National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) and ensure that all below poverty line pregnant women get cash assistance eight to 12 weeks prior to delivery.
It also suggested the filing of compliance reports within eight weeks which showed the total number of births, the number of eligible BPL women who received the benefits, the number of BPL women who had home or non-institutional deliveries and have received the benefit and the number of BPL women who had institutional deliveries and had received the benefit.
Directing governments to keep advertising such schemes regularly, the court said: "It shall be the duty of all concerned to ensure that the benefits of the scheme reach the intended beneficiaries."