The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to specify the steps taken and proposed to be taken to provide a non-discriminatory, enabling environment for SC and ST students in higher education institutions. a “very serious issue”.
A bench of Justice AS Bopanna and Justice MM Sundresh asked the UGC to give details of the steps taken on the plea by the mothers of Rohith Vemula and Payal Tadvi, who allegedly committed suicide following alleged caste-based discrimination in educational institutions .
While Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar from Hyderabad Central University, ended his life on January 17, 2016, Tadvi, a tribal student of TN Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai, took the extreme step on May 22, 2019 due to alleged caste discrimination. Discrimination based by three doctors of his institute.
“This is a very serious issue. Whatever concerns have been raised… how do you propose to deal with it and what steps have you taken to address these grievances? This issue is non-competitive and the UGC has to There is a need to take concrete action.” This is for the benefit of the students and their parents. The steps taken will ensure that such incidents do not happen in future,” the bench told the counsel appearing for the UGC.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the mothers of Vemula and Tadvi, said they had lost their son and daughter respectively, and three students studying at the National Law School, a medical college and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in the last one year. And there are students. Took his life.
“Therefore, there is a sense of urgency regarding this petition. It would be appropriate that the UGC frames binding guidelines which can be followed by the higher education institutions.” It is unfortunate that the existing guidelines have no binding effect as they do not Are. There is no sanction for violation of norms. There should be some rules like the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace (POSH) Act and anti-ragging laws, which provide for punitive action in case of violation”, Jaising said.
He said the equity norms framed by the UGC in 2012 to address complaints of caste discrimination in campuses are proving to be insufficient. UGC’s counsel said the commission is aware of the situation and has written to vice-chancellors of universities and college principals. Justice Sundresh told the counsel that efforts needed to be made to include students from SC/ST communities in the mainstream.
“You need to ensure that there is no discrimination because if some of them do not get along with other students, they may leave the college/university. This needs some different solution,” he added. The bench then asked the counsel for the UGC to seek suggestions from the petitioners and file a reply within four weeks mentioning the steps taken and the steps proposed to be taken to create a non-discriminatory environment in the campuses.
On September 20, 2019, the apex court had issued notice on a petition by the mothers of Vemula and Tadvi, seeking an end to caste bias in universities and other higher education institutions across the country. The petition had sought answers from the Center and the UGC.
The petitioners have sought enforcement of fundamental rights, particularly the right to equality, the right to be prohibited from discrimination against caste and the right to life. The petition claims wide spread caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutions across the country and states that it shows gross non-compliance of existing norms and regulations.
It states that these incidents are violative of the fundamental rights of equality, equal opportunity, right against discrimination, abolition of untouchability and right to life guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 21 of the Constitution. The petitioners have sought a direction to the Center and the UGC to strictly implement and ensure compliance with the UGC (Promotion of Equality in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012, commonly referred to as the ‘UGC Equity Rules’. They have also sought a direction to the Center and the UGC to ensure that all universities, including deemed universities and higher educational institutions, comply with the UGC Equity Rules in “letter and spirit”.
The petition sought a direction to the court to ensure that all universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) set up equal opportunity cells and such other anti-discrimination internal complaint mechanisms, and include members of SC/ST communities and Independent representatives of NGOs or social workers should be included. Ensure objectivity and fairness in the process.
It also seeks to direct all universities to take strict disciplinary action against harassment of students or staff who file complaints alleging caste-based discrimination and to take necessary steps in the nature of interim relief, which may be awarded to HEIs. To prevent creation of hostile environment against the students. Those who file such complaints.
Apart from these directions, the petition has sought various steps to end caste-based discrimination in campuses. “Since 2004, there have been more than 20 documented cases of suicides by students in the country’s universities. Various committees constituted to investigate these deaths have concluded that the allocation of supervisors to SC, ST students, Cases have faced systematic discrimination based abuse, problems in scholarship matters and many more,” the petition said.
(This report has been published as part of an auto-generated syndicated wire feed. Except for the headline, no edits have been made to the copy by ABP Live.)
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