Centre sets up judicial panel to probe Dalit student's suicide

Centre sets up judicial panel to probe Dalit student's suicide

Centre sets up judicial panel to probe Dalit student's suicide

The Centre on Thursday formed a one-man judicial commission headed by former Allahabad High Court judge Ashok Kumar Roopanwal to probe the suicide of PhD student Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad.

“The constitution of one-man judicial commission was approved by the HRD Ministry today (Thursday),” official sources said.

The retired high court judge, who has been a practicing lawyer for the last few years and designated as a senior advocate of the Supreme Court in 2013, will investigate into the sequence of events that led Rohith Vemula to commit suicide, a Ministry official said, referring to the terms and reference of the judicial commission.

“He will probe into the entire sequence of events and circumstances that led to the incident and fix the responsibility for it,” he said.

The judicial commission will investigate if the university followed the procedures, laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in its regulations notified in 2012, to check “harassment and victimisation” of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students at the hands of their teachers and peers, he said.

“The one man judicial commission will submit its report within three months,” he added.

The constitution of judicial commission to probe into Vemula’s suicide within a week after the HRD Ministry made an announcement in its regard, amid students intensifying their protest against HRD Minister Smriti Irani in Hyderabad, Delhi and other states, demanding her resignation along with that of Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya.

Students under the banner of Left-backed unions and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan have been staging protests every day at various locations in Delhi since Vemula’s suicide on January 17, holding two Union ministers responsible for it. On January 25, the Congress-backed National Students Union Of India (NSUI) gave a call for “Dilli Chalo” (march to Delhi) in Hyderabad.

As the HRD Ministry remained under pressure, the UGC wrote to vice-chancellors of all universities affiliated to it, reminding them of its guidelines issued last year to ensure safety of students on and off the their respective campuses.

The higher education regulator asked all varsity heads to set up students counselling centres at their respective campus, as suggested by it in its guidelines issued on in April 2015.

“All the higher educational institutions should mandatorily put in place a broad-based students counseling system for the effective redressal of problems and challenges faced by students. You are requested to kindly create the students counselling centre in your esteemed university and the colleges affiliated to your university,” the commission said in its letter to vice-chancellors on January 27.

It also sought the varsities to engage trained psychologist at the centres as and when required. “The action taken in this regard may be sent to the undersigned at the earliest on,” it added.

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