The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday a plea by a second-year law student of Delhi University (DU), who could not regularly attend classes due to advanced stage of pregnancy, seeking relaxation in attendance and permission to appear in the ongoing fourth semester LLB exam.
The matter was mentioned today before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha which fixed it for hearing on Wednesday. A single judge bench of the Delhi High Court had recently refused to grant any relaxation in attendance to student Ankita Meena 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 Bar Council of India (BCI) and earlier decisions of the high court.
The student had sought a direction to DU to permit her appear in the IV semester LLB examination which commenced on May 16. Following the single judge’s order refusing to grant her relief, the student had approached a division bench which had on Tuesday sought the response of DU on her plea. In her plea in the high court, she had said she could not meet the requisite 70 per cent attendance criteria due to her pregnancy.
Her lawyer had submitted before the single judge bench that the woman was a diligent student who had been attending her classes regularly, and it was only due to her health issues faced during pregnancy and the birth of her child that she was unable to attend classes in the IVth semester. She had 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 in the high court by the university before the single judge on the ground that LLB degree course was a professional course and mandated regular attendance of lectures. The varsity’s counsel had argued that 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 hence, the university was justified in detaining the petitioner in the IVth semester.
The single judge, in its order, had noted that the issue has been considered and decided by a division bench of the high court which had held that maternity leave cannot be put in a different compartment for the purposes of relaxation of attendance.