Pregnant? Can't continue studies normally then, SC rules
There's a right time for everything, and considering Indian courts' verdicts, getting pregnant during college isn't it. Yet another student, this time at DU, has been barred by the SC from appearing her exams because she missed too many classes due to pregnancy. The law student had knocked at Delhi HC's doors before, but didn't get relief. However, there's still hope for Ankita Meena.
Meena became a mother three months ago
Meena, who gave birth in February, had an attendance of 49% in her fourth semester, as against a mandated minimum of 70%. So the university refused to allow her to sit for her exam. She moved the Delhi HC challenging the decision, but it refused her plea. In the meantime, she had already missed three papers. The fourth was scheduled for 2pm yesterday.
Why hadn't you applied for maternity leave?: SC asks Meena
Meena then went to the SC. The hearing started at 11:50am yesterday, but the DU counsel arrived at 1pm and said it wouldn't be possible to accommodate her in just one hour. She didn't even have an admit card. The SC agreed: "There's no point passing an order that cannot be complied with." It also asked why she hadn't applied for maternity leave in the first place.
DU's exemption clause didn't apply to Meena's course
At the Delhi HC, Meena had cited a DU ordinance which says if a married woman is granted maternity leave, "lectures delivered during her leave period shan't be taken into account" while calculating her total number of lectures. But the university said law is a professional course, and those without requisite attendance weren't eligible to be enrolled in the Bar Council of India.
Similar decision by Kerala HC last year
In a similar case last June, Kannur University barred second-year student VG Jasmine from taking examinations. The BE student had missed 52 of 93 classes due to pregnancy. But the Kerala HC noted that her decision to "expand her family" cannot be grounds for "wriggling out of the conditions of a regular academic course." As for Meena, she can approach Delhi HC again.
Female students are allowed some exemptions when pregnant
Following the Kerala HC judgement, the HRD relaxed rules for female research scholars, including a 240-day maternity break. This break, also referred to as childcare leave, can be taken once during the entire MPhil/PhD course. Women are also allowed to shift her work from one university to another if they relocate during the course due to personal or professional reasons.
Is barring women from exams due to pregnancy justified?
In India's patriarchal society, pregnancy is often the family or husband's decision rather than a woman's. Moreover, it is preferable that each partner, especially the woman, has the capability to raise the child, which unarguably includes financial strength. Obstructing her education, and thus a means to a livelihood, simply because she didn't attend enough classes, might just hurt her prospects of a secure life.Share this timeline