The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim relief to a student of the L.L.B. course of Faculty of Law, University of Delhi (DU), who had missed college due to her pregnancy.
The Bench comprising Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice AM Khanwilkar issued notice to DU, while permitting her to attend classes for the next semester.
The Petitioner, Ms. Ankita Meena had approached the Delhi High Court earlier this year, seeking a direction to DU to permit her to appear in the IV semester LL.B Examination. She could not meet the requisite 70% attendance criteria, having missed almost 2 months of the semester due to her pregnancy.
She had sought relaxation relying on Rule 2 (9) (d) of Ordinance VII of Chapter III of Delhi University which states, “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 High Court had, however, noted that the position had been settled by a decision by the Division Bench of the court in the case of University of Delhi & Anr. v. Vandana Kandari & Anr., wherein the court had held that maternity leave cannot be put in a different compartment for the purposes of relaxation of attendance.
The court had further highlighted the fact that LL.B. is a “a special professional course where no relaxation can be granted contrary to the Bar Council of India Rules, which specifically governs the field.”
It had, therefore, in May, refused to granted her attendance relaxation, noting that while “there may be justification for the petitioner’s inability to attend regular classes”, the relief cannot be granted in light of the Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India as well as earlier decisions of the High Court.
An appeal against this order was also dismissed, with a Division Bench of the court opining, “There is no dispute that that the Bar Council of India regulates the standard of the Legal Education in the country and the University is bound by the Rules as framed by the Bar Council of India. The learned Single Judge has rightly dismissed the petition.”
Ms. Meena then approached the Supreme Court, through Advocates Padma Priya, Ashish Virmani, Rishab Sancheti Himanshu Dhuper and Akshay Abrol. In addition to the contentions already put forth, she now also draws the court’s attention to a separation petition filed by 68 DU law students, who could not attend the minimum number of classes.
Pointing out that the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court had permitted them to pursue their studies without holding more classes, she demands a similar relief for herself.