SC disallows Interim Relief to DU Law Student who Missed Classes due to Pregnancy after Delhi HC Refusal

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INTRODUCTION:

The present case “Ankita Meena v. University of Delhi” was adjudicated on 15th May 2018 by a Single Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court by Justice Ms. Justice Rekha Palli.

The petitioner, who is a second year law student of LL.B at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, has sought a direction to the University to permit her to appear in the IVth semester LL.B Examination.

The petitioner, after marrying, begun the LL.B Course and gave birth to a baby boy while undergoing her IVth semester. Though she had high attendance for the previous semester, but she missed substantial no. of classes for the IVth one. She was detained as she did not have the required 70% attendance for the IVth Semester due to the various health issues faced by her during her pregnancy and birth of her child.

ARGUMENTS FROM BOTH SIDES:

It was contended from the petitioners side that she was entitled to maternity leave citing relevant provisions of the University rules and the number of lectures in each subject delivered during the period of her maternity leave shall not be taken into account.

From the Respondent’ side, Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India were cited wherein a mandatory 66% attendance, in any case, is necessary if the usual 70% attendance criteria is not followed . Moreover, it was contended that the court was bound by its 2010 decision “University of Delhi & Anr. v. Vandana Kandari & Anr.” LPA 662/ /2010.

PRECEDENTS AND OBSERVATIONS:

The Court accepted both the arguments from the Respondent’ side and held that in the said case:

the Division Bench had…come to a categorical conclusion that maternity leave could not be put in a different compartment for the purposes of relaxation of attendance.

LL.B. is a special professional course where no relaxation can be granted contrary to the Bar Council of India Rules, which specifically governs the field.

IN “Sukriti Upadhyay v. University of Delhi” LPA 539/2010 the Delhi High Court observed:

For future…no relaxation would be given from the requirement of clearance of 5 or 15 papers as the case may be for promotion to the third and fifth term shall be adhered to by the University. Further, the attendance rules shall be amended by the University of Delhi and shall be brought in conformity with the attendance rules framed by the Bar Council of India. The permissible relaxation would be as per the rules framed by the Bar Council of India and manner of exercise shall be as so framed there under.

In “Smt. Deepti v. Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi” WP(C) No. 18051/2006 the Delhi High Court observed:

…the field of legal education has its own sacrosanctity. With the passage of time, the field of law is getting a larger canvas.

…In a democratic society where the rule of law governs, a student of law has a role to play.

Roscoe Pound has said “Law is experience developed by reason and applied continually in further experience”.

A student of law has to be a dedicated person as he is required to take the study of law seriously as pursuit of law does not countenance any kind of idleness.

…A student prosecuting study in law, in order to become efficient in the stream of law, must completely devote to the learning and training

…If a law student does not attend lectures or obtain the requisite percentage of attendance, he cannot think of taking a leap to another year of study. Mercy does not come to his aid as law requires a student to digest his experience and gradually discover his own ignorance and put a progressive step thereafter.

RULING and APPEAL:

By holding itself to be bound by the above-mentioned cases, the Delhi High Court held that no relief be granted to the petitioner.

The petitioner further appealed in the Delhi High Court against the decision where the appeal is pending as for now.

After not being able to get interim relief from the Delhi High Court,the Petitioner approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for interim relief which was declined on 23rd May 2018 by a Division Bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha observing “…This is a hard case and the law is not in your favour“.

The respondents side objected the petitioners move stating the Bar Council of India rules, precedents and the inability to make arrangements for the exam scheduled on the same day and especially the improbable task of issuing an admit card at this stage. The petitioners side contended on the notion of equality before law and the fundamental right of a woman to procreate. They prayed for an order that entitled the petitioner to sit for the exam scheduled on the same day.

Thus no interim relief was granted by the Supreme Court and now the petitioners have to rely on the decision of the Delhi High Court.

This note is penned by Gunjeet Singh Bagga.