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Magistrate fights for her right to PhD while in service

Metropolitan Magistrate Twinkle Wadhwa,who earlier presided over a Mahila Court at Tis Hazari and is currently posted at Kingsway Camp’s Juvenile Justice Board,is fighting for her “fundamental right to education”.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
September 14, 2011 1:55:57 am

If a teacher of the Delhi University can be allowed to pursue a PhD course to enhance academic acumen,why should a judge be compelled to take study leave to go for a research programme?

Metropolitan Magistrate Twinkle Wadhwa,who earlier presided over a Mahila Court at Tis Hazari and is currently posted at Kingsway Camp’s Juvenile Justice Board,is fighting for her “fundamental right to education”.

The Delhi High Court is all set to decide the legality of an “arbitrary and discriminatory” regulation of the university that allows its teachers to simultaneously pursue a PhD course but prohibits a judicial officer from doing so.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna is expected to conclude hearing arguments on the case on Wednesday and fix a date for their verdict.

During the last hearing,the DU counsel claimed that they were merely following a regulation of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The UGC defended its rule,arguing it was meant to maintain academic standards.

“The PhD is a full-time programme for which the student need to devote himself or herself for obtaining such degree. The UGC is of the view that in order to maintain standards of research degrees,a degree in the nature of PhD cannot be termed part-time,” its affidavit read.

Wadhwa’s counsel M R Shamshad opposed the UGC stand,contending it was misleading and sought to bypass the main point of why a judge should be prohibited when she was ready to devote full time to the programme despite being in service.

Wadhwa filed the petition last year after DU refused to allow her to pursue a PhD course as she was employed as a judicial officer. Declining to grant her permission to go for the research programme in 2009,DU asked her to take study leave for two years.

Her petition,however,described the situation as a choice between ‘Right of livelihood vs Right of education’ and questioned why a candidate is required to leave his or her job to pursue a research programme that does not interfere with daily work.

The petition has stated that the impugned rule under the 2008 Regulation was “arbitrary and vitiated from unequal treatment” because while everyone else was required to apply for a two-year study leave,those employed as teachers in DU colleges and schools could pursue the course and work at the same time.

Referring to those teaching in the university’s Faculty of Law,the petition said a judicial officer should not be treated differently from a faculty member who discharges his/her official functions and undertakes PhD simultaneously.

The petition has requested the court to quash the university’s ordinance,necessitating such a condition,and direct the university to consider her application for enrolment to the PhD programme.

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