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The girl students had argued that the boys have the freedom to roam outside the hostel premises after reporting time, while the girls are locked up at 9:30 pm.
Justice Devan Ramachandran of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday observed that prima facie the new Government Order which relaxed the timings of the hostel curfew of the Medical Colleges in Kerala substantially for both boys and girls, a welcome step forward.
As per the Government Order, even though the gates of the hostels – both for boys and girls – will be closed by 9.30 pm, the students will be able to enter after that time, subject to certain bare minimum conditions, except for the first year students.
The judge noted that the Government's decision was also affirmed by the Standing Counsel for the Kerala Women's Commission who stated that it does not brook of any gender discrimination.
The High Court is currently seized with three petitions pertaining to the notification issued by the Higher Education department that did not allow female students to go out of the hostel after 9.30 pm.
Students of Government Medical College, Kozhikode moved the high court stating that the bar was put on only the female students from going out of the college hostel after 9.30 pm, whereas, there were no such restrictions for boys.
When the high court took note of the discrimination and rapped the state government for such act, the Government issued the new Government Order on December 6, 2022.
Appreciating this decision, the court has now directed all Principals and other concerned Authorities of the Medical Colleges to act in terms of the new Government Order with immediate effect.
During the course of the hearing, on an earlier date, the court had criticized the decision of the Higher Education department while stating that "in 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".
Court had added that it must be the endeavour of the State and the Public Authorities to make the girls competent to fend for themselves, if they are not, rather than being locked in.
Case Title: Fiona Joseph v. State of Kerala and connected matters
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