Supreme Court to hear pleas filed by Payal Tadvi, Rohith Vemula’s mothers
Payal Tadvi, a tribal student at TN Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, committed suicide on May 22 this year owing to alleged caste-based discrimination. While Payal had left a suicide note, naming three doctors who allegedly harassed her, Vermula ended his life after he was expelled from the hostel.Updated: Sep 21, 2019 02:32 IST
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a petition filed by the mothers of Payal Tadvi and Rohith Vemula, who allegedly committed suicide over purported caste bias, seeking remedies to bring an end to the issue of caste-based discrimination across universities.
A bench led by Justice N V Ramana issued notices to the Central government, the University Grants Commission (UGC), India’s higher education regulator, and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous body that measures the quality of higher educational institutions in India.
Representing the petitioners, senior advocate Indira Jaising referred to a set of UGC regulations that prohibits caste-based discrimination and said universities are lax in implementing the same.
“There are 288 universities, besides some more deemed universities where no equity commissions have been set up,” she claimed. Jaising even referred to a previous judgment by Justice Ramana’s that had highlighted caste-based discrimination in the universities. She said the top court must step in to ensure strict compliance in the wake of a failure on the part of institutions to implement the judgement. Jaising said such harassment must stop.
The bench agreed to examine the matter, and sought responses from the organisations concerned in four weeks.
Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar at Hyderabad Central University, had committed suicide on January 17, 2016, following alleged caste bias.
Payal Tadvi, a tribal student at TN Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, committed suicide on May 22 this year owing to alleged caste-based discrimination. While Payal had left a suicide note, naming three doctors who allegedly harassed her, Vermula ended his life after he was expelled from the hostel.
Their mothers have sought the top court’s directive for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India, particularly the Right to Equality under Articles 14, 15, 16, and 17, the Right to Prohibition of Discrimination Against Caste under Article 15, and the Right to Life under Article 21.
The petition states that caste-based discrimination and harassment on campuses came to light for the first time in 2006 when an incident was reported from the All India Institute Medical Sciences (AIIMS). As per that report, students from scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities were addressed with derogatory slurs and subjected to discrimination even by professors.
The petition also cited a series of cases where Dalit and tribal students were pushed to take extreme steps while fighting caste-based discrimination in universities.