The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HC lifts bar on pregnant student

Calcutta, Nov. 29: The high court today rejected the decision of a private primary teachers' training institute to prevent a married student from attending classes because of her pregnancy and upheld its earlier observation that every mature woman had the right to attain motherhood.

Tanusree Halder, 23, sought justice after the authorities of Goksai Aurobindo Sangha Primary Teachers' Training Institute at Chandrakona in West Midnapore, 180 km from Calcutta, decided to strike off her name from the register because she was pregnant.

'The petitioner is an adult and married. She has every right to attain motherhood. One cannot take away this right from a mature woman by framing rules and regulations,' Justice Soumitra Pal said.

'The court is hereby directing the principal of the Goksai Aurobindo Sangha Primary Teachers' Training Institute to allow the petitioner to attend her classes in the present session (2005-2006) immediately,' Justice Pal ordered.

Tanusree, a resident of Garbeta in West Midnapore, 20 km from the institute, had completed MSc in zoology from Vidyasagar University with first-class marks.

She took admission at the institute on August 18, paying Rs 38,000 (tuition fees and hostel charges) for the one-year course. Classes began on September 2. On October 19, the authorities asked her not to attend classes. She was also told to leave the hostel.

Shocked, she appealed to the institute in writing to withdraw the decision and allow her to continue classes as long as her health permitted.

When it was turned down, she approached the district inspector of schools (primary) and the West Midnapore primary school council. They rejected her appeal.

Tanusree's counsel Krishanu Banik said: 'Government guidelines for private teachers' training institutes nowhere mention that pregnant women should be barred from such courses. Moreover, the admission form and prospectus also did not mention that students who become pregnant will be prevented from continuing the course.'

The institutes' counsel said: 'One should consider whether a pregnant woman can be accommodated in a residential institution. It is a matter of concern for the authorities if a pregnant student is allowed to stay with unmarried girls.'

Today, Justice Pal issued an interim order and said he would hear the case again next month. His order mentioned an earlier verdict of Justice K.J. Sengupta directing an HS school to allow a pregnant student to continue classes.

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