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Supreme Court refuses permission to pregnant law student to write her exams

The petitioner, Ankita Meena, fell short of the required attendance as she could not attend classes because she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

delhi Updated: May 24, 2018 09:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pregnant DU student,Delhi law student,Supreme court
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to give permission to a second-year-old law student of Delhi University who was not allowed to write her exams as she had missed her classes due to her pregnancy.(HT file photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to give permission to a second-year-old law student of Delhi University who was not allowed to write her exams as she had missed her classes due to her pregnancy.

The petitioner, Ankita Meena, could not attend classes because she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and was denied concession by the university, which mandates 70 per cent attendance to be eligible to sit for exams.

Meena, who had 49 per cent attendance, wanted immediate permission to sit for her paper on Wednesday afternoon.

But a bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha said that it was “very uncomfortable” to pass an order at 1 pm on the candidate’s plea to sit in the exam scheduled an hour later.

“There is no point passing an order that cannot be complied with. The time is very limited,” the bench said and dismissed the plea filed by Meena’s counsel Himanshu Dhuper.

The order came after the university counsel said it was difficult to make arrangements for her at such a short notice.

“Discipline of academics has been lost completely. What is the point in having a cut-off date? All this will be lost if we entertain all this,” the judges noted.

The bench asked the petitioner to go back to the Delhi High Court where Meena’s appeal against the university’s decision is still pending. Dhuper told the bench that Meena had already missed three papers and requested it to allow sit on Wednesday.

“What is disturbing us is that suppose we pass an order now, we are not very comfortable that the Supreme Court passes an order at 1 pm allowing a candidate to sit in her examination at 2 pm,” said the bench, asking the counsel as to why didn’t Meena apply for maternity leave in advance.

The court took up the matter first at 11:50 am. Since the lawyer pressed for an immediate relief, the court called for the DU counsel, saying it won’t pass an order without hearing the other side.

At 1 pm, the DU lawyer appeared and expressed inability to accommodate Meena. The court was informed that it would be impossible to issue an admit card to her.

When the student’s counsel urged the bench to allow her to sit in the remaining two papers so that she could save one year, the bench observed, “The law is against you.”

“It is a very hard case. We understand this. In the morning, we were reluctant to pass an order. Now, DU is not agreeing,” the court told the lawyer. “The rule will not come to your aid. You had not applied for maternity leave earlier,” it said.

A single judge bench of Delhi HC had refused to grantany relaxation in attendance to Meena, saying the relief she asked could not be granted as it was against the provisions of Rules of Legal Education of the BCI and earlier decisions of the high court.

Following the single judge’s order refusing to grant her relief, the student had approached a division bench, which too declined to interfere but agreed to hear her plea on the larger issue. A notice was issued to DU by the HC.

First Published: May 24, 2018 09:25 IST