The Delhi High Court, on Monday, issued notice on a Petition challenging an Ordinance passed in June, 2015 under the Delhi University Act, 1992 prohibiting LLM students from practicing or undertaking employment while enrolled in the course.
The Bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Chander Shekhar, however, refused to pass any interim order and fixed the next date of hearing as 12 April. Filed by a student, Mr. Kumar Piyush Pushkar, the Petition was argued by Mr. Anirudh Bakhru.
Along with the Ordinance, Mr. Pushkar also challenges a notification passed in September, 2017, whereby the students have been directed to submit affidavits stating on oath that they would not engage in any trade, profession, business, occupation or any gainful activity during the duration of the course.
He alleges violation of Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India, contending, "A bare perusal of the impugned clause of the Ordinance clearly shows that it is ex-facie excessive and puts a blanket prohibition on the students to engage in any trade, business or profession thereby blatantly abrogating the right to freedom of trade guaranteed to the students.
The impugned clause of the Ordinance not only fails to curtail an existing mischief or secure a compelling social interest but also stipulates a restriction for the sake of restriction, as there is no alteration in the course of instruction i.e. the hours of teaching, attendance requirements and the number of examinations are not altered. Such a prohibition which puts students such as the Petitioner through extreme hardship without securing any social interest or remedying a mischief, ex-facie falls outside of the limits of restriction, on the right of freedom of trade, permissible under Article 19(6) of the Constitution of India."
He further contends that the prohibition has no reasonable nexus to the object sought to be achieved, explaining, "Any restriction imposed by the Respondents can only be for the purpose of ensuring the sanctity of the course of instruction. In the present case the Respondents have assumed that a restriction of activities beyond the course of instruction will result in diversion of free time to the course of instruction.
This not only causes financial hardship but also denies legal exposure as the students are entitled to practice law as per the Bar Council of India. Restrictions based on such assumptions that run contrary to common experience of humanity and fail to practically achieve the object sought are impermissible under part III of the Constitution of India. The restriction of the Petitioners right to self-sustenance and higher education based on impractical surmises is a blatant abrogation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India."
Mr. Pushkar goes on to challenge the blanket prohibition, asserting that Delhi University (DU) could have banned activities that require a substantial time instead of placing a blanket ban. This, he says, "financially cripples" students, asserting, "...the restriction is so ridiculously or unreasonably disproportionate and exploitative that a student who needs to support himself for his sustenance cannot even work for an hour or so after college to support himself. This ex-facie infringes the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21."