The woman judicial officer in Patiala House court submitted before a bench of Justice Manmohan that the condition of the varsity and the University Grants Commission that she should take two years' leave from her employer (Delhi High Court) to pursue PhD is arbitrary and unreasonable.
Justice Manmohan asked the university to inform the court on whether the academic council or the dean took the decision to reject the magistrate's plea to exempt her from condition of taking two years' leave.
The bench also directed that the magistrate may continue studying till her petition is decided.
Magistrate's counsel M R Shamshad told the bench that "PhD is a regular but research-based course for which imposing such conditions to a judicial officer, who wants to pursue PhD course in law related field is completely arbitrary and without any rational and reasonable nexus."
He submitted that because the topic chosen by the petitioner is "ombudsman for good governance" and it has direct link with the day-to-day function performed by the petitioner as metropolitan magistrate, she stands to gain experience for the course.
The magistrate has challenged the ordinance of the varsity which requires PhD candidates sponsored by their employers and employees in service of any other recognised institute to take study leave for two years to fulfil residency requirement of the Delhi University.
The counsel said the requirement of study leave is a "disqualifying restriction and an unreasonable infringement" of the fundamental right of equality as the ordinance puts teachers of Delhi University on a different footing not requiring them to take study leave.
The counsel also relied upon a 2012 judgement of the high court in which plea of another woman magistrate, presiding over a mahila court and pursuing PhD in prenuptial agreements, against the condition of two years' leave was allowed.
In that case the court observed that since the subject of PhD relates to judiciary, a judicial officer stands to gain by discharging her duty as she can collect necessary material from real case studies of various kinds of litigation coming to the court.
In 2009, UGC issued an ordinance requiring teachers working with varsities other than DU and candidates sponsored by their employers to take two years leave from work for pursuing PhD.
On January 24, 2013, the magistrate applied with DU for enrolment as PhD student proposing her topic as "Ombudsman for good Governance". She cleared Junior Research Fellowship examination and the interview. She was asked to deposit fee but given provisional admission subject to grant of two years study leave from her employer.
The magistrate deposited the fee for March 2013 to February 2014 and also made a representation to the varsity to exempt her from the condition but in vain.