The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a petition questioning the power of college hostel authorities to frame rules discriminatory to female students. The issue relates to discriminatory rules issued by the Mahila Maha Vidyala (MMV) women’s hostel of Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.
“There have been various instances of gender discrimination in rules and regulations at the MMV hostel. A girl student is asked to leave the hostel if found to be flouting any of these rules,” argued noted advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the students. “Girl students cannot go out of the hostel, even inside the campus, after 8 pm, cannot make telephone calls after 10 pm, and cannot wear clothes of their choice,” Bhushan told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who assumed office on Monday.
Admitting the plea for quashing “discriminatory hostel rules”, the bench posted it for hearing in November. If the court eventually scraps the rules, it will act as a precedent to move court against several such hostels. Female students of several colleges across the country are against such regulations.
LATE NIGHTS RESTRICTED IN DELHI COLLEGES
In Delhi too, in several colleges, including Jamia, Miranda House and St.Stephens, girls have to be in their rooms by 8:30 pm and late nights are restricted.
“Girl students are not allowed to leave the hostel premises after 8 pm even to go to the library or to attend a programme on the BHU campus. Others hostels allow girl students to be out till 10 pm. This rule is even applicable to girl students who may have to catch a train or a bus to travel back home,” said the petition.
“Boys, however, can stay out till 10 pm and don’t need permission to step out after the deadline. As per the UGC guideline of 2016, no curfew timings can be instilled for students”, the petition added.
The hostel guidelines for girls instruct them to wear “decent clothes” outside their rooms. They are instructed not to wear clothes of their choice even in the common area and mess. No such rules exist for boys at their hostel.
It is to be noted that on May 4, 2017, the court had revoked the suspension of eight students of the university and directed its administration to conduct special examinations for them which they had missed due to the suspension.
Bhushan claimed the action was taken by the varsity to suppress their demands that the cyber library in the campus be opened 24×7, especially during examination time. The students had staged a hunger strike for their demand and due to that, the university administration had suspended them.