The Supreme Court on Thursday while hearing the petition of mothers of Rohit Vemula and Payal Tadvi asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) for the steps that has already been taken and are yet to be taken for the creation of an enabling environment for ST/SC students in higher education institutes.
A division bench comprising Justice AS Bopanna and Justice MM Sundresh heard the Public Interest Litigation(PIL) filed by Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohit Vemula, a PhD scholar at Hyderabad Central University who had committed a suicide on January 27, 2016, and Abeda Salim Tadvi, the mother of Payal Tadvi, a student of tn Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai, who also died by suicide on May 22, 2019.
While Rohit belonged to the Other Backward Classes(OBC), Payal belonged to a Tribal family, both committed suicide due to allegedly facing caste discrimination in their respective college campuses.
Justice Bopanna told to the UGC it is ultimately for the interest of the students and the parents of Rohit and Tadvi ensuring steps to be taken to not let this happen again in the future.
He told the UGC, since the PIL is non –adversarial, it should specify how it is planning to address and rectify the issues that were raised in the petition filed by the mothers.
Justice Sundresh asked the Commission to state all of the steps that are already in place and what needs to be done in this regard.
Senior Advocate and the petitioner’s counsel Indira Jaisingh told the Court that the steps should be taken with due consultation. Justice Bopanna told the UGC that as it is a sensitive matter, the Commission needs to take some action and as the litigation is non adversarial in nature, it can also consider discussing on suggestions with petitioner’s counsel while taking any action.
Justice MM Sundaresh asked UGC to propose ideas on how to facilitate ST/SC students to the mainstream as they come from different backgrounds, while some may fail and some might throw a good performance.
Indira Jaisingh raised questions on the equity regulations, framed by the UGC in 2012 saying it to be inadequate saying the regulations are non-binding in nature as it don’t have any sanctions for the violation of the regulations.
Jaisingh further added these regulations fall short, when are compared to the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act (POSH) and the anti ragging regulations.
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