Delhi: The issue of caste discrimination in campuses in our country, particularly against Dalits and tribals, has reached the Supreme Court, which issued notices to Central Government, UGC and NAAC on a petition filed by mothers of Rohit Vemula and Payal Tadvi, who were forced to commit suicide because of caste discrimination on campuses. Rohith Vemula, a PhD student and Dalit who took his own life on the campus of University of Hyderabad in 2016, and Dr Payal Tadvi, a 26-year-old Muslim gynaecologist belonging to a tribal community committed suicide in Mumbai early this year.
The bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana and Ajay Rastogi issued these notices after hearing the arguments of senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for the petitioners. She said that UGC regulations against caste discrimination on campuses aren’t being implemented in letter and spirit, which has resulted in suicides due to caste discrimination on campuses.
In their joint petition, Radhika Vemula and Abeda Salim Tadvi have sought the apex court’s intervention for the issuance of guidelines to the higher educational institutions in the country. The petition has also deplored the inadequacy of existing “equity regulations” notified by the University Grant Commission (UGC) in 2012 for redressing the issue of caste-based discrimination on campuses. Citing the data received through an RTI reply, the petition argued that the UGC has failed to take any action against universities that have not complied with its set of regulations.
Other than the lack of implementation, the petition underscored grave inefficiencies in the regulations. “The lack of any uniform independent mechanism to address these complaints prevents the students from approaching the authorities as they do not feel confident about the procedures.” The petition refers to the presence of faculty members as anti-discrimination officers which deters the students as the faculty can ruin their academic results.