Discipline bar on girl exam

SC declines to allow new mom to take test

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 24.05.18
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Supreme Court. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to permit a Delhi University student, who fell short of the required attendance because of pregnancy, to write her fourth semester, observing that "academic discipline" cannot be breached and time was too short to pass an order as the exam was to begin in an hour.

The university had barred Ankita Meena, a second-year Delhi University (DU) student of law, from appearing in the exam because she did not have the requisite attendance of 70 per cent.

The exam was held at 2pm on Wednesday and the matter came up around 1pm before a vacation bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha.

The court briefly heard the DU counsel, who opposed the student's plea, and said it would not pass an order.

The bench, however, gave Ankita the liberty to approach Delhi High Court, where her appeal against a single-judge bench's order upholding the DU's and Bar Council of India's attendance rules is pending.

"How is it possible for us to pass any order now for the exam at 2pm and it is practically not implementable," the Supreme Court told Ankita's counsel.

Although the student's counsel, Himanshu Dhuper, submitted that she be permitted to appear in the exam subject to the final outcome of the case, the bench found no merit in the argument.

At one point the bench asked Dhuper: "Have you (Ankita) applied for maternity leave?" The student has delivered the baby but could not make up for the attendance shortfall.

The counsel replied: "No, Your Lordship."

The court said: "The law is not in your favour. You have not applied for maternity leave. The law will not come to your rescue."

Justice Khanwilkar remarked: "Academic discipline is lost completely if rules are not observed. What is the point of laying down rules and cut-off dates... for various things?"

Justice Sinha said the petitioner's arguments sounded "incongruous".

"We are not actually comfortable with the very idea that the Supreme Court passes an order at 1pm and the student sits for the exam at 2pm," Justice Sinha said.

The bench then passed a formal order dismissing the plea but allowed the petitioner to approach Delhi High Court.