The Delhi Commission for Women has issued a notice to Indian Bank seeking withdrawal of its new recruitment guidelines which prevents a woman, who is three or more months pregnant, from joining service.
An immediate reaction regarding the move, which has invited criticism from various quarters, was not available from the public sector lender.
Earlier, in January, the country's largest lender SBI had put in place new rules which said a woman candidate with more than three months pregnancy will be considered "temporarily unfit" and can join the bank within four months after delivery.
After criticism from various quarters, the SBI suspended the revised guidelines on the recruitment of pregnant women.
In its notice, the DCW said the alleged action of Indian Bank is "discriminatory and illegal" as it is contrary to the maternity benefits provided under 'The Code of Social Security, 2020'.
"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 appointment to 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 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.
DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal said the panel has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports on framing of new guidelines by the Indian Bank for recruitment of staff.
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, it said.
"The bank has framed rules which state that if a woman candidate is three months pregnant, then she would be considered 'temporarily unfit' and would not be given immediate joining upon her selection. This will lead to delay in their joining and subsequently they will lose their seniority," it said.
"The commission has issued notice to Indian Bank and has asked them to withdraw the newly issued anti-women guidelines and to provide complete details as to how the policy was framed along with its approving authority," the DCW said.
The bank has been asked by the panel to provide a detailed action taken report in the matter by June 23.
Maliwal has also written a letter to the RBI governor.
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 the 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 inquiry into the matter and fix accountability on the bank officials who have issued the sexist guidelines.