Women's hostels cannot have exclusive restrictions: Kerala HC

Ladies' hostels cannot have exclusive restrictions: Kerala HC
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Kochi: Restrictions not imposed in gents' hostels - on political activism and movie-going - cannot be applied in women's hostels either, the High Court has said. The observation comes on a plea by a student from Sree Keralavarma College, Thrissur, calling the management’s rules gender-biased and discriminatory.

However, restrictions entering hostel during class hours were untouched by court. Currently, women cannot stay in hostels or attend political events during study hours. They cannot go for first/second movie shows or on days not allowed to. They face suspension or dismissal for violation of code of conduct or attendance shortage. These are the restrictions challenged in the plea.

The applicant also quoted UGC guidelines that speak against gender discrimination in the name of safety. However, college authorities argued the restrictions were agreed to by parents. But the court said students were no more minors.

Court's observations

1. College management has the final word in matters of discipline. Students cannot dictate them.

Hostels cannot be used as a base for those who do not attend classes properly. The direction not to stay there during class hours is intended to bring discipline. Court refrains from interfering in this matter since students can stay with authorities’ permission.

2. Denying permission to attend political events does not come under discipline. It is against students’ right to self-expression and thus denial of fundamental right.

3. Denying permission for movies on days not allowed or first/second shows amounts to moral guardianship, which cannot be allowed. Girls are equally free as boys. They can decide if they have to go to a movie or at what time. The management can decide a deadline for return to hostel.

4. The court refrains from interfering in matters of disciplinary actions on code of conduct, punctuality and attendance shortage. However, students can always seek to appeal against such decisions.

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