No special exemption fora Pregnant Student for appearing in an examination: Kerala HC

No special exemption for Pregnant Student for appearing in an examination: Kerala High Court

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The High Court of Kerala has held in Jasmine V.G vs Kannur University and others, that a pregnant student, cannot claim any special exemption due to her pregnancy, to appear for an examination. The Court was considering the plea of a petitioner, a B.Ed student who was prevented from undertaking University Examination, upon failing to secure the minimum requisite attendance. The petitioner claimed an exemption, contending that her absence was occasioned only due to her advanced stages of pregnancy. The petitioner sought to justify her exemption for absence, relying on an unreported judgment of High Court of Delhi, which ruled that denying such an exemption to pregnant women were equivalent to making motherhood a crime. Dismissing the writ petition and dissenting with the judgment of High Court of Delhi, Justice K. Vinod Chandran held that the petitioner cannot claim any exemption to appear for examination, without satisfying the minimum attendance, only due to the factum of her pregnancy.

The court observed that B.Ed, a teacher training course undertaken by petitioner , had a pivotal role in Nation building and hence cannot be gained by mere bookish knowledge, but by attending classes and gaining sufficient practical knowledge. Terming the stage of pregnancy caused by the petitioner as ‘optional’ , the court observed that the petitioner ought to have adjusted her priorities in life , with due regard to the prescribed regulations of her B.Ed course, which included securing minimum attendance to undertake any university examination. It was further held that strict adherence to course regulations, cannot be held to violative of preferential treatment to women under Directive Principles or in derogation of values of motherhood. The Court in its conclusion opined that, personal preferences and individual predilection should bow down to the larger public interest and societal obligations. The judicial reasoning of the court was expressed in the following words:-

“It cannot be said that merely for the reason of her pregnancy a student could be allowed to sit for the examinations even without satisfying the requisite attendance, as prescribed by the educational agency. It cannot also be said that the case of the petitioner is an exceptional one, since, pregnancy cannot be considered to be a medical condition visited on the petitioner unexpectedly. This Court is of the firm view that the petitioner ought to have definitely adjusted her priorities when continuing a higher education, especially in a course which trains her to be a professional teacher. Pregnancy was an optional choice and that cannot be a reason to permit a student to deviate from the requirements of a regular course of study, and the insistence to adhere to the course regulations cannot be termed to be, a negation of the preferential treatment to women enshrined under the Directive Principles or in derogation of the values of motherhood. The petitioner has chosen to expand her family and can only be deemed to have taken a sabbatical from regular studies; which is definitely permissible and laudable too. But that cannot be turned to her advantage for wriggling out of the terms and conditions of a regular academic course. The award of a degree is not a private affair concerning the awardee alone; when it also brings with it the stump of approval of a reputed educational agency, on which the society acts. Personal preferences and individual predilection should bow down to the larger public interest and societal obligations.”

This is the observation made by K.VINOD CHANDRAN, JUDGE –

The petitioner herein is a student of B.Ed., a teacher training course, and is being trained to work as a teacher, whose role in nation building cannot, but be emphasised. It cannot be said that merely for the reason of her pregnancy a student could be allowed to sit for the examinations even without satisfying the requisite attendance, as prescribed by the educational agency. It cannot also be said that the case of the petitioner is an exceptional one, since, pregnancy cannot be considered to be a medical condition visited on the petitioner unexpectedly. This Court is of the firm view that the petitioner ought to have definitely adjusted her priorities when continuing a higher education, especially in a course which trains her to be a professional teacher. Pregnancy was an optional choice and that cannot be a reason to permit a student to deviate from the requirements of a regular course of study, and the insistence to adhere to the course regulations cannot be termed to be, a negation of the preferential treatment to women enshrined under the Directive Principles or in derogation of the values of motherhood.

The petitioner has chosen to expand her family and can only be deemed to have taken a sabbatical from regular studies; which is definitely permissible and laudable too. But that cannot be turned to her advantage for wriggling out of the terms and conditions of a regular academic course. The award of a degree is not a private affair concerning the awardee alone; when it also brings with it the stump of approval of a reputed educational agency, on which the society acts. Personal preferences and individual predilection should bow down to the larger public interest and societal obligations. The petitioner definitely will be entitled to continue the second semester in the next year and appear for the examination after securing the requisite attendance.

By – Nikita Goel

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