Saturday, December 2, 2023

“Specify steps taken to end caste discrimination in campuses”: SC asks to UGC in plea by mothers of Rohith Vemula, Payal Tadvi

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Payal Tadvi (left) and Rohith Vemula (right)

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the University Grants Commission’s response in a PIL filed by the mothers of Rohith Vemula and Payal Tadvi, for guidelines for creating an enabling environment for students belonging to Dalit and Adivasi communities in higher education institutes.

“Ultimately it is in the interest of the students and the parents whose children have lost their lives. In the future, atleast some care should be taken that this doesn’t happen.” Justice AS Bopanna told UGC.

Rohith Vemula, a research scholar and the Ambedkar Student Association leader at Hyderabad University, tragically took his own life on January 17, 2016 as a result of the social boycott and caste-based discrimination he experienced within the institution. His death sparked widespread outrage across universities in India. Similarly, Dr. Payal Salim Tadvi, a tribal Muslim woman, also died by suicide on May 22, 2019 following casteist and Islamophobic harassment perpetrated by three of her senior colleagues at Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Nair Hospital.

Rather than replying in the nature of objections, care must be taken to specify how the UGC is planning to address and rectify the concerns raised in the petition, said Justice Bopanna.

Justice Sundresh also asked the UGC to specify whatever steps have been taken by the body so far and what is proposed to be done, Live Law reported.

“Tell the UGC this is a sensitive matter and you have to take some action. Since it is not adversarial you can also discuss with the petitioner’s counsel for suggestions.” Justice Bopanna informed the counsel for UGC.

“How do you facilitate them (students from SC/ST backgrounds) to get into the mainstream? Because they have come from a different backgrounds. There are many scenarios, some might drop out, some may not perform well,” asked Justice MM Sundresh.

Appearance for petitioner, Sr. Advocate Indira Jaising said: “It is rather unfortunate that in the year 2023, 3 more suicides of have taken place of students. One of them in a National Law School, one in a medical college and one in an IIT. Therefore, there is a sense of urgency about this petition. It would be in the fitness of things if the UGC in a non adversarial manner could be persuaded to frame binding guidelines which will bind all institutes of higher education.”

The matter has been posted after 4 weeks.

The petitioners Radhika Vemula and Abeda Salim Tadvi have been the leading the campaign against institutional murders in Indian campuses.

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