Kerala High Court gives final verdict in KMC hostel curfew issue. Here are more details on the hearing

The women petitioners contended that the 2019 government order which restricted the movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 pm was only being implemented in their hostel
Kerala High Court | (Pic: Express)
Kerala High Court | (Pic: Express)

The fight of girl students from Kozhikode Medical College (KMC), Kerala against the hostel curfew timings seems to have come to an end with the Kerala High Court ruling that institutes must implement the "new government order" which allows students to enter the hostel even after 9.30 pm (curfew timing) by getting a written request approved by the warden or with the permission of parents.

This new government order dated December 6, 2020, takes into account "concerns of the parents, requirements of the students, as also the need for an unfettered life within and outside the campus", the court noted on January 3, 2023. The court also clarified that although there is a timing imposed on the hostels — for both boys and girls — the students can enter and leave it after it, subject to the conditions that are imposed in the “new government order”.

Problems with the earlier order
The women petitioners contended that the 2019 government order which restricted the movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 pm was only being implemented in their hostel and not that of the men. They had also sought a direction from the court to the medical college to permit them to access the reading room, study hall or library attached to the campus and the fitness centre there without any time restrictions "in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience."

Justice Devan Ramachandran also appreciated the petitioners in his judgment. "Some voices are perhaps much ahead of our times. This has been so throughout the march of civilization and the evolution of mankind; and it is heartening that one such is impelled in these cases — filed by young ladies, who are independent thinking, with the ambition to make a career for themselves, without being subjected to any kind of patriarchism," he said, according to the copy of the judgment which EdexLive has a copy of.

He also noted that girls and women must be able to walk on the streets at any point of time — be that day or night, albeit in an ideal society. "Parents have a genuine fear for their wards and their concerns cannot be brushed aside, merely because the children have attained the age of
eighteen. However, it is also apodictic that they must grow up, without being under the clock of patriarchism - even projected as an attempt to protect them; since, the perceptions are vastly different from what it was even a few decades ago," he added.

Constitution of ICC in colleges
The court also directed competent college authorities to ensure that Internal Complaints Committees, in terms of the “UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women, Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015” are constituted in every college; and that notifications to such effect are issued and published within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment.

"...we must bear in mind that it is not really about protecting women – they are strong. It's about changing how the world perceives that strength. There is no limit to what a woman can accomplish; and we need to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation – so that women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored," the judge said while parting.

Students' reaction
Students, including the petitioners, are positive about the verdict which they term as "favourable" to them. "Thanks to the court for giving a favourable verdict considering the arguments of the students, the government and the university. If it is still felt that there is violation of fundamental rights, the freedom to go the legal route will be exercised," members of the Independents College Union said.

"Writing a written request and showing it to the warden every time when we go out is not practical. So we are trying to make it into movement register," said Henna, from the Union.

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