A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar of the Delhi high Court, issued a notice to the Centre and others on plea seeking framing of guidelines for providing relaxation in attendance norms for women studying in educational institutions, who are unable to fulfil the requisite attendance criteria owing to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care.
The public suit was filed by Kush Karla through his advocate Chinmoy Pradeep Kumar, who has also sought direction from the court to appoint a three-member high-level committee headed preferably by a retired lady Judge of the Supreme Court to make recommendation for securing and safeguarding the rights of women studying in educational institutions who undergo pregnancy, child-birth and postnatal care situations which prevent them from attending classes.
- The plea highlights that women have a Constitutional right to make their own reproductive choices as a part of their personal liberty recognized by Article 21 of the Constitution.
- PIL stated that, “Lack of regulations/ guidelines by the Respondents for women who are deprived from their student status or are detained in any semester for failure to secure requisite the minimum attendance requirement owing to pregnancy, child-birth or post-natal care amounts to violation of their Fundamental Rights”.
- The PIL stated that, “State provides for a framework which allows these women incentives in the form of attendance relaxation so that in exercising their reproductive rights or bearing a child owing to decisions beyond their control are not detrimental to their educational aspirations to secure the right to pursue and complete higher education goals”.
- In purview of the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, the PIL pointed out that, “his beneficial legislation provides several benefits and incentives to women who are in employment and several relaxations including maternity leave etc. Ironically, such benefits are not provided to women who are pursuing their qualifying degrees from educational institutions which will enable them to become a part of the workforce. The State cannot discriminate between women who are working and women who are studying”.
- The petitioner has also stated that he received negative replies from the All India Council of Technical Education, the Bar Council of India, the University Grants Commission and the Medical Council of India when he filed RTIs seeking information about existing rules for relaxation of attendance in case of pregnant women.
- The PIL also highlighted that, “To become a mother is the most natural phenomenon in the life of a woman. It must be realized the motherhood is not only the cherished gift for a woman but it is also onerous to her. While it takes two partners for the choice of motherhood, but the weight of the motherhood false disproportionately on a woman solely because of her sex. In such a situation, keeping the unique position of a female student in mind, maternity must be accommodated in an academic semester/year”.
- Petitioner added that, “if his plea is allowed then, it will benefit many female students in getting higher education as pregnancy forced them to choose between reproductive choices and education is the violation of her fundamental right and due to shortage of attendance, women are unable to complete their further education which caused them grave hardship”.
The Court issued a notice to the Centre and others on plea seeking framing of guidelines for providing relaxation in attendance norms for women studying in educational institutions, who are unable to fulfil the requisite attendance criteria owing to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
- Case of Kush Kalra vs. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) of 2020, decided by the Delhi High Court on February 17, 2020.