ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Removing Discrimination in Universities

Situating Rohith Vemula’s Suicide

How can we create just and non-discriminatory spaces in universities when the discriminatory practices are not obvious and apparent? The author suggests two ways—reporting and addressing indirect discrimination and a periodic discrimination audit of educational institutions. 

Rohith Vemulas suicide, one among the several instances of suicides of Dalit students in Indian universities, has received a fair amount of attention. The event has also generated a feeling of helplessness among Dalit rights activists.

The notification and subsequent enforcement of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came just a few days after the incident. Even before the amendment, the act, popularly known as Atrocities Act, had the image of a stringent act.  It is true that by introducing a presumption vide Section 8 (c) it removes the difficulty of proving caste motive in instances of violence. But the amendment does not remove the burden and standard of proof, which would still need to be beyond reasonable doubt, on the complainant. Legally stringent laws are those which shift the burden of proof to the accused and follow a standard of preponderance of evidence than beyond reasonable doubt. So calling it stringent is unfounded, going by legal standards.

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