The Supreme Court on 23 May refused to allow a second-year law student of Delhi University (DU) to take her examination on Wednesday on grounds of lack of attendance owing to her pregnancy.
The student, who could not regularly attend classes due to an advanced stage of pregnancy, had sought its permission to appear in the exams scheduled this afternoon.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha observed that the court was "very uncomfortable" in passing an order at 1 pm on a candidate seeking to sit in the examination scheduled an hour later.
"There is no point passing an order which cannot be complied with. The time is very limited." - The bench
The bench dismissed the plea filed by Ankita Meena, after the counsel for DU said she cannot be allowed to appear in the examination on Wednesday as it was difficult to make arrangements for her in such a short span of time.
“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 bench also observed.
The bench referred to the fact that a single judge of the Delhi High Court had already passed an order in the matter and a division bench of the high court was hearing the appeal filed by student, who fell short of the 70 percent attendance criterion due to pregnancy, seeking permission to appear in the ongoing fourth semester LLB examination.
The counsel for the student told the top court that she could not appear in three papers in the examinations but the apex court should allow her to sit in examination on Wednesday.
However, the bench granted liberty to the student to pursue her pending appeal before a division bench of the high court.
"What is disturbing us is that suppose we pass an order now, we not very comfortable with it that the Supreme Court passes an order at 1 pm allowing a candidate to sit in her examination at 2 pm." - The bench said while asking the student’s counsel why she had not applied for maternity leave earlier
"We appreciate the point you have brought before the court. A single judge has passed an order based on the orders passed by the division bench which is binding on a single judge. In case of a special law and a general law, the distinction has to be kept in mind," the bench said.
‘The Law is Against You’: Bench on Student’s Plea
Initially, the matter was taken up for hearing at around 11.50 am but the bench said it would not pass any order without hearing the DU's counsel.
DU counsel appeared before the court at around 1 pm and said, "We need sufficient time. Admit card has to be issued and it cannot be done right now."
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 said, adding, "the rule will not come to your aid. You had not applied for maternity leave earlier".
During the hearing, the student's counsel told the bench that she had 49 percent attendance against the 70 percent attendance criterion and other students were earlier granted interim relief by the court.
The bench, however, told him that there were provisions of the Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India (BCI) which could not be overlooked in the case.
A single judge bench of high court had recently refused to grant any relaxation in attendance to the student 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 BCI and earlier decisions of the high court.
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