The Delhi High Court has refused to grant any relaxation in attendance to a second-year LLB student of Delhi University so she can appear in the semester exam. The student couldn’t attend classes as she was pregnant.
The court ruled that relief cannot be granted due to the Rules of Legal Education framed by the Bar Council of India (BCI), as well as earlier decisions of the High Court. “Though this court finds that there may be justification for the petitioner’s inability to attend regular classes of IVth semester of LLB course, the relief sought by her cannot be granted…,” Justice Rekha Palli said.
When contacted, BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra told The Indian Express they are bound by their own rule. “Sometimes, when we received such requests from students, we took a sympathetic view. But Delhi University moved the High Court against the same, which passed a stricture against us. The university can relax the attendance rule, but they cite our Rules and deny relief to students… So we cannot do anything,” he said. The woman, who enrolled for the course in August 2016, had sought directions to the varsity to permit her to appear in the fourth semester exam. She could not meet the requisite 70% attendance criteria as she missed almost two months of the semester due to her pregnancy and the birth of her child in February.
The judge said, “I find that the issue, whether the period of maternity leave can be considered for the purpose of relaxation of attendance, has already been considered and decided against the petitioner by a division bench of this court…. A perusal of the said decision shows that the division bench had, after considering various earlier decisions of this court, come to a categorical conclusion that maternity leave could not be put in a different compartment for the purposes of relaxation of attendance.”
The judge further said, “I also find merit in the contention (of DU) that LLB is a special professional course where no relaxation can be granted contrary to Bar Council of India Rules, which specifically governs the field. In my considered view, Rule 12 of Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India prescribes a mandatory attendance of 70% in each semester of LLB…”