Published: 29th August 2019
Mothers of Rohith Vemula, Payal Tadvi ask SC to push colleges to crackdown on caste discrimination
The petition presented the data received through RTI which showed that the UGC had failed to take action on campuses that have not abided by the rules regarding caste discrimination
The mothers of Rohith Vemula and Dr Payal Tadvi, Radhika Vemula and Abeda Salim Tadvi approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking a stricter mechanism to address caste-based discrimination on campus. The mothers, in their petition, said that the "equity regulations" in place to tackle the issue are inadequate.
The petition was filed through the advocate-on-record Sunil Fernandes and appeals to the court to intervene in the matter for the issuance of guidelines to higher education institutions across the country. The petition presented the dat received through RTI which showed that the University Grants Commission had failed to take action on campuses that have not abided by the rules regarding caste discrimination.
In the RTI reply, it was found that out of 800 universities, only 155 had replied to the UGC seeking the 'action-taken' report in 2015-2016. In 2017-2018, the number increased to 419. However, this is not the only thing that is worrying about the issue, the petitioners say. Most of the universities that did file their action report stated that they had not received any complaints from students about facing caste discrimination on campus. Neither had the administration done anything to address the complained.
The petition said that the UGC has repeatedly failed to create a safe environment for students, “The repeated failures of the UGC to address issues of caste-based discrimination and ensure compliance of its regulations has resulted in the violation of fundamental rights of the SC, ST community in higher educational institutions, which deserves the intervention of the Supreme Court."
The petition stated that the fact that faculty themselves were part of the redressal bodies discourages students from going to them with complaints since they fear it would affect their academic results. The lack of a uniform independent mechanism fails to assure the student of any positive result.
The mothers said in their petition that personal accountability on the part of the college administration was essential to curb caste-related incidents on campus, "These analogous regulations also provide for personal accountability on part of the university/college administration to ensure implementation, a clause which is also missing in the Equity guidelines.” The regulations should also be expanded to include SC, ST faculty who feel dominated and vulnerable in casteist campuses, the petition suggested.
The petitions in their plea requested the court to exercise its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution which states that the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice to ensure universities pull up their socks and take affirmative action.