The hearing in the case pertaining to attendance row in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) witnessed a gripping hearing in Delhi High Court today..The hearing before Justice Siddharth Mridul saw a heated exchange of words between Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for petitioners and ASG Aman Lekhi with the Bench eventually taking objection to Lekhi’s statements made towards the end of the hearing..The case is a writ petition filed by four chairpersons and one Dean challenging the imposition of compulsory attendance by the 144th Academic Council (AC) in December last year as well as their removal from their posts for refusing to adhere to this rule..The petitioners have prayed for quashing the compulsory attendance rule on the ground that it is “illegal, arbitrary and unreasonable”. It is their contention that the issue of mandatory attendance was neither a part of the agenda set out for the 144th AC meeting nor was it discussed..The case made by the petitioners is that various provisions of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Act, 1966 relating to the powers of the Registrar, powers of the Academic Council, powers of the Executive council, among other things, were violated in taking this decision. The petitioners claim that the Registrar and EC overstepped their authority while the statutory authority of the AC was undermined..When the matter was heard in April this year, the High court had granted interim relief to the petitioners by reinstating them after the Court was assured that they will adhere to the ‘75 % compulsory attendance’ rule until a judgement is passed in that regard..When the case was taken up today, ASG Lekhi said that only a minuscule minority from the faculty has come to Court. A banter on this interruption ensued, leading to a war of words with Kapil Sibal..Sibal said that he knows about his “learned friend’s arrogance” which was received with a quip from Lekhi,.“Not as much as you, Sir.” .Justice Mridul intervened saying that “this case seems to have much more undertones, Mr. Sibal.” .Sibal then proceeded to make submissions on the controversial Academic Council meeting stating that the agenda item for the meeting was in relation to some other matter and had no mention of attendance..The Bench asked Sibal as to whether there was any urgency in relation to this matter. Justice Mridul suggested that he would stay the decision on attendance and keep it later for final hearing. Sibal replied that the urgency was that the administration was escalating the issue by asking for undertakings and the new session would start next week..In response, Lekhi appearing for JNU proceeded to question the locus of the petitioners stating that only five academic council members have approached the court..Further, he stated that Court cannot substitute the wisdom of Academic Council with its own wisdom. It was also his argument that the interim application has been pending for quite some time and no orders need to be passed..Sibal rebutted this by pointing out that compulsory attendance was not implemented in the last semester and the students were allowed to sit for the exams..Regarding the locus, the Bench itself brushed aside the same with Justice Mridul stating,.“I didn’t know they were AC members. Of course, they have locus.”.Lekhi replied that “only 5 have come before the court, 118 members have passed this decision.”.Mridul J. replied that only 1 was enough..Mridhul J. then suggested that the University itself submitted that it would not take any coercive steps against the students, to which an animated Lekhi responded that these students are an “embarrassment to the nation, they are anti-national, they want to break up the country and celebrate Afzal Guru”. .Mridul J. pacified the situation by asking whether that matter is pending in some other Court or not..The judge was then proceeding to pass an order directing that no coercive steps be taken against the students when Lekhi stated,.“How can Your Lordships pass an order of stay? How can you pass that order?”.At this, Justice Mridul took objection and told Lekhi that,.“I don’t need to have any directive or permission from anyone to pass orders. If you insult the majesty of this Court sitting under art. 226, I do not need counter…(inaudible).”.Lekhi said that he hasn’t said anything in contempt and Justice Mridul quipped that he never said anything about contempt..The Court then ordered that,.“No coercive steps to be taken against the students in pursuance of attendance requirements now introduced on behalf of JNU, during the pendency of the petition.”.The Court, however, also made it clear that the interim direction shall be subject to the outcome of the petition and no equities shall be created in favour of the students in the event the court upholds the decision of the JNU..The case is now listed for hearing on October 29, 2018..Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Akhil Sibal along with advocates Abhik Chimni and Govind Manoharan appeared for the petitioners. ASG Aman Lekhi along with advocate Monika Arora appeared for JNU.