A recent judgment of the Kerala High Court serves to emphasise that moralistic and discriminatory rules cannot be arbitrarily imposed on students by college administrative authorities, especially when the rules have no relation to the avowed object of maintinaing discipline and decorum within the campus..Justice A Muhamed Mushtaq passed a ruling to this effect while quashing certain rules framed by the Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur. Among other rules, the college had prohibited female students from participating in political movements and going for movies at late showtimes..20-year-old Anjitha K Jose had challenged these by placing reliance upon the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015. Clause 3.2.(13) of these regulations state,.“Concern for safety of women students must not be cited to impose discriminatory rules for women in hostels as compared to male students. Campus safety policies should not result in securitisation, such as over monitoring or policing or curtailing the freedom of movement, especially of women employees and students.“.In response, the Court held that the college does not have a right to interfere with a female student’s choice to participate in political movements or to attend a movie screening of her choice. The judgment notes,.“It is the fundamental right of every citizen to have its own political views as part of the freedom of expression. That can be only reasonably restricted for securing any objectives of the management of the hotel. Since it has no relation with power conferred with the management, I find this instruction [ban on female students participating in political events] has to be struck down as violative of fundamental rights….… It appears that moral choice of the management [to refrain from attending late-night screenings for movies] is attempted to be imposed on the Boarders. .The moral paternalism is something to be frowned upon. A girl is having equal freedom similar to a boy. .There are no similar restriction in the boy’s hostel. It is for the student to decide whether they should go for the first or second show movies or not. This is an activity outside the hostel… The College can fix timing for return in the evening, but that timing should also be reasonably fixed… this moral choice of the college cannot be imposed..this clause has to be struck down.”.The Court struck down these rules on concluding that they had little to do with college discipline, particularly since they were only imposed on female students. Justice Mushtaq noted that such differential treatment cannot be justified, even if they were signed off by the parents of the students..“The petitioner is an adult. Her right to quesition cannot be compromised based on parental consent. Even if the parent had signed, instruction cannot be violative of fundamental rights.“.The Court observed that ordinarily, the college administration would be well within its rights to set out rules for maintaining decorum and discipline within the College. All the same, it pointed out that any rule which does not have a relation to such a disciplinary purpose would have to be quashed. The judgment notes,.“The fundamental right of a management to administer and manage cannot be overlooked… when there are competing fundamentals rights involved, the Court has to uphold the fundamental right of the management.“.Therefore, certain other rules concerning the need for special permission to remain in the hostel during working hours and disciplinary action for mischievous conduct by students were upheld by the Court. However, it was emphasised,.“… Court will have to find out such measures imposed by the management are measures for to secure the object for which such power is conferred upon. If such measures have no correlation with object for which the power is conferred, Court will have to strike it down holding it as arbitrary.“.Read the Judgment:.Bar & Bench is available on WhatsApp. For real-time updates on stories, Click here to subscribe to our WhatsApp.