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Kerala HC Questions Curfew in Women’s Hostel; Rights of Women Can’t be Restricted Under Garb of Protection

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Aastha Thakur

Published on: 30 November 2022 at 23:19 IST

The Kerala High Court lamented upon the curfew regulations in women’s hostel of Kozhikode Medical College. The court stated that such regulations are just to set patriarchy norm under the garb of protection.

Justice Devan Ramachandran said these kinds of patriarchy sets-up even in disguise of protection must be highly criticized.

The bench was dealing with the plea filed by MBBS female students and office bearers of the College Union of the Medical College Kozhikode.

The petitioners came before the court to contest a Government Order (GO) issued in 2019 that imposed a restriction on the entry and exit of higher education college hostel inmates after 9.30 p.m. without a valid reason.

The court observed that, “ the modern times, any patriarchism – even in the guise of offering protection based on gender – would have to be frowned upon because girls, as much as boys, are fully capable of taking care of themselves; and if not, it must be the endeavour of the State and the Public Authorities to make them so competent, rather than being locked in,

The petitioner-students emphasised that only women’s hostels were subject to this requirement; men’s hostels were not.

According to submitted plea, the 9:30 pm deadline, is merely suggestive and not a requirement. It was stated that the limits now in place in their hostel go beyond the authority granted by Section 42 of the Kerala University of Health Sciences Act.

The plea submits that the restrictions imposed are attempt to impose the moral paternalism on the students of all professional colleges across the State.

The petitioners also challenged several clauses of the Ordinance for Recognition of Hostels in affiliated Educational Institutions under Kerala University of Health Sciences that set certain fixed times when the students have to study and can use the study hall.

The plea also submits that petitioners have attained the age of majority and should have freedom to choose the mode or manner in which they intend to study as long as it does not cause any disturbance to others.

The court assertes that indeed the Order issued by the Government prima facie, restrict the students freedom to walk freely in campus after a particular time and that the same can be justified only if compelling reasons are shown.

However, there can also be situations where students would want to walk out in the nights, for other reasons, as they may deem. This has been restricted and I am certain, therefore, that the competent Authorities must come out with the rationale in imposing the said limitation“, the Court said.

It also reminded the responded authorities to keep in mind the Regulations of the University Grants Commission, which mandate that under the guise of protection, the rights of the students – especially women – cannot be inhibited, particularly the right of movement.

The Court listed the matter for December 7 and in meanwhile directed the State Government, University and Women’s Commission to submit response.

Case Title:  Fiona Joseph & Ors. v State of Kerala & Ors.