Published: 23rd May 2018
SC refuses to allow pregnant student to appear in DU LLB exams
The student, who could not regularly attend classes due to an advanced stage of pregnancy, had sought its permission to appear in the exams scheduled this afternoon
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to allow a second-year law student of Delhi University (DU) to take her examination on grounds of lack of attendance owing to her pregnancy.
The student, who could not regularly attend classes due to an advanced stage of pregnancy, had sought its permission to appear in the exams scheduled this afternoon.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha observed that the court was "very uncomfortable" in passing an order at 1 PM on a candidate seeking to sit in the examination scheduled an hour later.
"There is no point passing an order which cannot be complied with. The time is very limited," the bench said and dismissed the plea filed by Ankita Meena, after the counsel for DU said she cannot be allowed to appear in the examination today as it was difficult to make arrangements for her in such a short span of time.
"Discipline of academics has been lost completely. What is the point in having a cut-off date? All this will be lost if we entertain all this," the bench also observed.
The bench referred to the fact that a single judge of the Delhi High Court had already passed an order in the matter and a division bench of the high court was hearing the appeal filed by student, who fell short of the 70 per cent attendance criteria due to pregnancy, seeking permission to appear in the ongoing fourth semester LLB examination.
The counsel for the student told the top court that she could not appear in three papers in the examinations but the apex court should allow her to sit in examination on Wednesday.
However, the bench granted liberty to the student to pursue her pending appeal before a division bench of the high court.
"What is disturbing us is that suppose we pass an order now, we not very comfortable with it that the Supreme Court passes an order at 1 PM allowing a candidate to sit in her examination at 2 PM," the bench said while asking the student's counsel as to why she had not applied for maternity leave earlier.
"We appreciate the point you have brought before the court. A single judge has passed an order based on the orders passed by the division bench which is binding on a single judge. In case of a special law and a general law, the distinction has to be kept in mind," the bench said. Initially, the matter was taken up for hearing at around 11.
50 AM but the bench said it would not pass any order without hearing the DU's counsel. DU counsel appeared before the court at around 1 PM and said, "We need sufficient time. Admit card has to be issued and it cannot be done right now".
When the student's counsel urged the bench to allow her to sit in the remaining two papers so that she could save one year, the bench observed, "the law is against you".
"It is a very hard case.We understand this. In the morning, we were reluctant to pass an order. Now, DU is not agreeing," the court said, adding, "the rule will not come to your aid. You had not applied for maternity leave earlier".
During the hearing, the student's counsel told the bench that she had 49 per cent attendance against the 70 per cent attendance criteria and other students were earlier granted interim relief by the court.
The bench, however, told him that there were provisions of the Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India (BCI) which could not be overlooked in the case.
A single judge bench of high court had recently refused to grant any relaxation in attendance to the student saying even though there may be a justification for her inability to attend classes of IVth semester of LLB course, the relief sought by her cannot be granted in the light of the provisions of Rules of Legal Education of the BCI and earlier decisions of the high court.
The student had sought a direction to the DU to permit her appear in the IV semester LLB examination which had commenced on May 16.
Following the single judge's order refusing to grant her relief, the student had approached a division bench which had sought the response of DU on her plea.
Her plea was opposed before the single judge the of high court by the university on the ground that LLB degree course was a professional course and mandated regular attendance of lectures