Should romantic couples be expelled from college? The debate is on!

Describing love as ‘a blind and an innate humane instinct’, the Kerala High Court quashed the decision of a college in the state to oust a boy and girl student for their love affair and for eloping
Representational Image
Representational Image

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved
— George Sand  (1804-1876), the pen-name of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, French writer.

All the world loves a lover, a proverb that means it makes us happy to see a couple in love. But this seemingly acceptable proposition doesn’t seem to hold true as reflected in a recent news report in The New Indian Express dated July 22. But first, the facts.

Describing love as ‘a blind and an innate humane instinct’, the Kerala High Court quashed the decision of a college in the state to oust a boy and girl student for their love affair and for eloping. The court issued the order on the petition filed by BBA student Malavika Babu (20), of Varkala CHMM College for Advanced Studies and her senior Vyshak (21), challenging the decision of the college. The court said the college authorities failed to understand that an intimate personal relationship is a matter of privacy of individuals, upon which it has no authority to interfere. In the absence of evidence that it had affected the classes conducted by the college or the congenial environment for learning, no action can be taken on grounds of indiscipline.

“Love is all about the individuals and their freedom.” In this case, the college authorities, as well as their parents, objected to the affair. Finding them to be barriers, Malavika eloped with Vyshak. Malavika’s mother lodged a missing person's complaint following which the police produced them before the magistrate. However, the court set her free as she was not wrongfully detained. Malavika’s parents retracted from the opposition and supported their marriage. Now the pair is husband and wife. However, the college’s approach was indifferent and it decided to expel them, citing that their act amounts to gross indiscipline.

The petitioners’ counsel submitted that Malavika wanted to continue her degree course in the college while Vyshak decided to discontinue the course and sought the return of his academic records retained by the college.

The court said that the right of the management to administer an educational institution would also include the power to impose discipline among the pupils to secure the objective standards of education. “But that doesn’t mean the authority can assume the role of imposing moral paternalism upon students, notwithstanding their disagreement to such values of the authority. The educational institution’s campus must be a place of neutral value, leaving the moral choice to the discretion of students to uphold freedom of the latter and overcome personal biases.” The court pointed out the love affair and eloping, termed as immoral amounting to a breach of discipline, was based on the moral values of the persons in management.

It was a sin for some and not a sin for others. In the eyes of the law, it is the choice of freedom which is the essence of liberty. How and in what manner the love affair and eloping have impacted the academic discipline was a matter to be explained by the college. There was nothing on record to justify that power was exercised for the aim which was conferred on the college authorities.

The course of personal life and choice of partners are left to individual autonomy. That is the essence of the right to privacy, stated the verdict. The court directed the Kerala college to readmit Malavika within two weeks and directed the college to return the records of Vyshak.

It may be noted here that in the corporate world, office romance is subject to various rules. In this case, also, the spurned college might approach the apex court and we might end up with a different verdict.
Despite the HC judgment, the subject is open to many views.

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