Opening hostel gates without regulation detrimental to society: Kerala University on curfew timings for female students

The petitioners had earlier challenged a 2019 government order that restricted the movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 pm 
Image from the protests | Pic: Sourced
Image from the protests | Pic: Sourced

"Seeking absolute freedom at the age 18 may not be appropriate and good for society. Opening up the gates of hostels without any regulation, would be detrimental to the society at large if the same is done without a proper scientific study," the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) stated in an affidavit in response to a plea by female students of Kozhikode Medical College against movement restrictions on hostel residents after 9.30 pm.

Students of the college condemned the language used in the affidavit. "It is really sad to see this coming from one of the greatest universities in the country. It is very patriarchal," said Henna, a student of the college. The Independents College Union, in a statement, said that they strongly protested the university's "immature anti-student comment" which is unacceptable. They informed that the case has been adjourned to Friday, December 23 as the students sought clarification regarding exit from the hostel post 9.30 pm.

Details on the affidavit
Meanwhile, the Kerala University made more observations regarding the curfew timings in its affidavit, that EdexLive has a copy of. "The petitioners who are medical students have their classes start by 8 am and they require sufficient sleep after every day's work. Sleepless nights and nightlife are not meant for the students and it is the duty of the educational institution and the university to frame regulations contemplating sufficient rest to the students. The restrictions imposed are not absolute and the ordinance provides for the issuances of late passes from the concerned persons," it said.

It was also of the view that the petitioners who are only a miniscule percentage, when compared to the total number of residents, and therefore, cannot be deemed to represent the interests of all the inmates. "In the regulations governing the hostel administration, there is no restriction which is unreasonable and gender discriminative. None of them violate any of the fundamental rights conferred on the petitioner as well. The norms fixed are necessary for the smooth administration of the hostels and to ensure discipline in the hostels. Above all this respondent has not come across any instance where a complaint has been received to
the effect that the regulations governing the hostels had put any student in a difficult situation so far as his studies are concerned," the affidavit added.

It went on to state the adolescents are vulnerable to drug addiction and unprotected sex and hence, seeking "absolute freedom" at this age may be unjustifiable. "...the adolescent brain is structurally and functionally vulnerable to environmental stresses, risky behavior, drug addiction, impaired driving and unprotected sex. The development of prefrontal cortex of the brain is very important for complex behavioral performance and the development and maturation of prefrontal cortex is fully accomplished at the age of 25 years," it added.

The Indian Medical Association - Medical Students Network in Kerala also condemned the affidavit issued by the university. The association said, "IMA MSN Kerala strongly disagrees with the immature attitude of the university..Such actions on the part of the university, which is supposed to ensure students' learning and safety, are objectionable."

The Left government clarified before the court that it has issued an order on December 6 relaxing hostel timings substantially and Justice Devan Ramachandran directed that the same be "implemented forthwith", as stated in a report by The New Indian Express. The petitioners had earlier challenged a 2019 government order that restricted the movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 pm, saying it was only being implemented in their hostel and not that of the men's.

During the earlier hearings of the matter, the court had questioned why only women or girls need control and not boys or men and why a curfew of 9.30 pm has been fixed for women in hostels of the medical college.

EdexLive has reached out to the principal of the college. The copy will be updated once a response is received.

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