SC refuses relief to DU student who missed classes due to pregnancy

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New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to grant interim relief to a Delhi University law student who was detained in Semester IV for lecture shortage owing to her pregnancy.

A bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha denied her plea to allow her to write her exams, one of which was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The bench, however, granted liberty to the petitioner to seek remedy from the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court, where an appeal is already pending.

On Monday, the Delhi High Court refused to grant interim relief to second-year student Ankita Meena to sit in the examinations, saying it needed to go into the details of the matter first.

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Meena’s counsels Ashish Virmani and Himanshu Dhuper then approached the apex court on Tuesday and sought urgent hearing of the case urging that the student be allowed to take the ongoing exams.

As the DU counsel was not present before the court during the hearing of the case in the morning, the apex court bench sought the presence of University’s counsel.

It, however, noted that by the time the court hears the DU’s counsel arguments, the exam would have been over.

“How can we pass an order without hearing the other side? The exam is at 2 p.m. and by the time we hear the other side what can be done,” the bench asked.

The University counsel appeared before the bench at 1 p.m. and raised objections to allowing the student to appear for her exam.

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Advocate Mohinder J.S. Rupal, appearing for DU, said the specific laws applicable to the Faculty of Law as well as rules laid down by Bar Council of India require a minimum attendance of 70 per cent.

Pointing out that the petitioner had not applied for maternity leave, the court said: “It’s very incongruous. We are not very comfortable with the idea that the Supreme Court passes an order at 1 p.m. and the student sits for the exam at 2 p.m. This is a hard case and the law is not in your favour.”

A single Judge of the High Court last week dismissed her plea for relaxing the attendance norm. On Monday, she approached a Division Bench of the High Court to challenge this order but could not get relief to sit in the examinations.

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Her counsel raised fundamental questions relating to equality before law and the fundamental right of a woman to procreate.

As per the petition, Meena is a regular student studying in law course’s Semester IV. She had 86 per cent attendance in Semester III. During Semester IV, she delivered a baby boy on February 2. On that account, she could not attend part of the Semester IV classes, the petitioner averred.

On May 11, the DU released a revised list of detainees, who did not have 70 per cent attendance which included Meena’s name.



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