The Delhi High Court has refused to grant any relaxation in attendance to a second-year law student of Delhi University who could not attend her classes regularly due to advanced stage of her pregnancy. Justice Rekha Palli said even though the court found that there may be a justification for the woman student’s inability to attend regular classes of fourth semester of the LLB course, the relief sought by her cannot be granted in the light of the provisions of Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and earlier decisions of the high court.
“For the aforesaid reasons, the writ petition along with the pending application, is dismissed,” the court said. The student, Ankita Meena, had sought a direction to DU to permit her to appear in the IV semester LLB examination which commenced on May 16. She said that she could not meet the requisite 70 per cent attendance criteria due to her pregnancy.
Her lawyer submitted that the woman was a diligent student, who had been attending her classes regularly, and it was only due to the various health issues faced by her during her pregnancy and birth of her child that she was unable to attend classes in the IVth semester. She relied on an ordinance of a chapter of DU that “in the case of a married woman student who is granted maternity leave, in calculating the total number of lectures delivered in the College or in the University, as the case may be, for her course of study in each academic year, the number of lectures in each subject delivered during the period of her maternity leave shall not be taken into account.” The plea was opposed by the university’s counsel saying that the LLB degree course was a professional course and it mandated regular attendance of lectures.
He said the court has consistently held that the students who do not attend the stipulated percentage of lectures, are not eligible for enrolment as members of the BCI and, therefore, the university was justified in detaining the petitioner in the IVth semester. The single judge, in its order, noted that the issue has been considered and decided by a division bench of the high court in which it was held that maternity leave cannot be put in a different compartment for the purposes of relaxation of attendance.
The court agreed with the contention of the varsity’s counsel that LLB was a special professional course where no relaxation can be granted contrary to the BCI Rules, which specifically governs the field. “In my considered view, once Rule 12 of Rules of Legal Education of the BCI prescribes a mandatory attendance of 70 per cent in each semester of LLB, no reliance can be placed on Rule 2 (9) (d) of Ordinance VII of Chapter III of Delhi University, which is a general provision that does not deal with a professional course like LLB,” the judge said.