Kochi: The Kerala high court on Wednesday questioned why only girls and women need to be “controlled” or “locked up” at night and asked the State government to ensure they get the same freedom as given to boys and men.
Justice Devan Ramachandran said there is no need to fear the night and the government should ensure that it was safe to go out after dark for everyone.
The observations came while hearing a plea moved by five women students of Kozhikode Medical College challenging a 2019 government order which restricted movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 PM.
The court, during hearing of the matter, questioned why only women or girls need control and not boys or men and why a curfew of 9.30 pm has been fixed for women in hostels of the medical college.
“Girls also have to live in this society. Will heads fall off after 9.30 pm? Will mountains collapse? The government has an obligation to keep the campus safe,” the court said and asked whether there was any hostel in the State where boys had a curfew.
The court also said it was problematic men who should be locked up.
Justice Ramachandran also said some people were saying that he was questioning the restrictions as he has no daughters.
The judge said he has relatives who are girls and live in hostels in Delhi where they are studying and such restrictions are not present there.
The government said the restrictions were in place taking into consideration the concerns of parents of the girls.
The court said it was taking into account the concerns of parents of women and girls, but at the same time there were other hostels in the State, where there were no curfews.
“Don’t children living there have parents?” the court asked.
It also said it was not going to blame the government if the parents want girls or women locked up at night.
“Let us not fear the night. The freedom given to boys should be given to girls too,” the court said.
On the last date of hearing of the matter, the court had said that the State and public authorities must endeavour to make girls and women competent to take care of themselves rather than locking them in.
It had also said patriarchy even in the form of offering protection to women and girls has to be frowned upon as they are just as capable of taking care of themselves like men and boys.
The women-petitioners have contended that the 2019 government order was only being implemented in their hostel and not that of the men’s.
They have also sought a direction from the court to the medical college to permit them to access the reading room or study hall or library attached to the campus and the fitness centre there without any time restrictions “in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience.”