Hearing a petition opposing curfew timings for women hostellers of Benaras Hindu University, Supreme Court bench headed by Judge Arun Mishra said that it is for the safety of the girls. He said on Thursday that even he or his wife accompany their daughter when she has to come home late.
Benaras Hindu University allows its male students to report back at 10 pm latest while girls have to report back at 8 pm.
Justice Mishra is of the view that that the early curfew is due to the safety and security of the girls and that there is nothing wrong with it.
“We should not interfere with the 8 pm restriction. We should have concerns about the safety of the girls too,” said Justice Mishra, News18 reported.
A male student of BHU has filed the petition through advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Bhushan called the rule “draconian” in nature. He claimed that other hostel rules also reek of gender discrimination. To strengthen his argument, he revealed that the university does not allow non-vegetarian food in girls’ hostel.
The court then asked Bhushan, “Is there a written order prohibiting non-vegetarian food in girl’s hostel? If there is none, on what basis we will pass any order on this?”
“We should not interfere with the 8 pm restriction. We should have concerns about the safety of the girls too”- SC bench on BHU curfew case
It also told him that girls who felt disconcerted by these rules should have filed the petition. “Let girl students file a petition. If you are willing to represent them, you should do it,” he told Bhushan.
The court then dismissed the petition asking for amendment of BHU hostel rules. It said, “If any girl wants to file an application for redressal of her grievances, BHU authority should consider it objectively.”
No end to controversy
BHU sees no end to controversy. A few months back, the college had erupted after a gang of boys molested a girl student inside the campus. The girl allegedly called out to the guard, but he ignored her. When she complained about the incident to her hostel warden, even she shamed her for roaming outside the hostel in the evening.
And the court judgment on hostel curfew is particularly problematic as the SC bench puts the onus of safety on women. It also tries to reinstate the fact that men dominate public spaces and women have a lesser stake in it.
BHU is not the only university to regulate girls with discriminatory rules. Colleges of Delhi University and other universities across India also have such biased laws. Students have time and again protested such laws explaining how it is hindering their lives. But to no avail.