Asia & Australia

December 27, 2017

Women hostel timing rules challenged: Kerala HC


A petition filed in the Kerala High Court has challenged the women hostel rules of Sri Kerala Varma College in Thrissur.

The petitioner, a lady student, Anjitha Jose, who is in third year of BA (English) course complained that the hostel restrictions imposed on the female students were unreasonable and discriminatory in nature.

According to the petitioner, “For females, the in-time on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is 4.30 pm, and 6 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Saturday, the inmates are allowed to go out only from 3.30 pm to 6 pm. On Sundays, they are not allowed to go out of their campus at all. On weekdays, class hours of the petitioner extend till 3.30 pm. This allows only 1 hour, from 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm, between the end of classes and compulsory re-entry for students to engage in activities outside the hostel on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The window is only two-and-a-half hour long on other days. As a result, the opportunities for lady students to go for co-curricular, extra-curricular, or self-development activities, such as volunteering activities at NGOs, competitions not conducted by the college, classes for arts, etc., which may extend into the evening, are severely impaired.”

Arguing further, the petitioner said that the unreasonable restriction on their movement places them at a worse footing as the job industry now focuses on the curriculum vitae, inter-personal skills, and soft skills. “Inmates of the hostel are unduly placed at a disadvantage on account of the arbitrary restrictions placed on them,” the petition said.

Pointing out that the hostel rules are contrary to Clause 3.2. (13) of UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, Jose said, “The hostel rules prohibit hostel members from taking part in political meetings, processions or propaganda. We are also not allowed to go for movies or like entertainment programs except on notified days. Further, hostel members are not permitted to go home on weekly holidays except under extraordinary circumstances, with the prior permission of the warden. Absolute prohibition on the movement on holidays has no nexus to any of objectives by which restrictions of this nature can be justified. However, such restrictions are not applicable to male students.”

The petitioner also said that the hostel rules are violating the principle of “anti-stereotyping” laid down by the Supreme Court in Anuj Garg v. Hotel Association case, which lays down that the imposition of unequal benefits and burdens, resting upon the stereotypes assigned to the roles of men and women in society, is an unconstitutional classification that is not justified in law and is a violation of the right to equality of the sexes guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.

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