Court directs institute to refund admission fees, and pay compensation to victim

The Madras High Court has deprecated a former principal of a city college for her inaction over a “complaint of ragging.”

Disposing a writ petition filed by a student who was affected by ragging in the campus, Justice A. Arumughaswamy also pointed out that “the principal, after coming to know, or after receiving the complaint, should, as per Rule 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Ragging Rules, 1999, enquire into such complaint immediately within 72 hours, either by himself or through a senior teaching staff working in the educational institution”. He added, “If any student is found guilty of ragging, the management of the institution should make a written compliant to the police station”.

The Judge gave the interpretation while disposing a writ petition filed by Neelam Shetty, through her father Suresh Shetty. Ms. Neelam was admitted to the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in Taramani. She also paid admission fees Rs. 25,000 and joined the girl’s hostel on July 14, 2003.

According to her father, his daughter suffered from day one,s since she was ragged by her seniors. On July 18, she was tortured by her seniors, who asked her to meet some senior boys and they all ragged her in an indecent manner. Further, another senior asked her to clean her room and also asked to display obscene gestures.

Ms. Neelam complained about the incidents to the principal of institution, D. Grace. As there was inaction on the part of the principal, police investigated the matter following a complaint from the father. Within 10 days of joining, Ms. Neelam left the institution, and, under these circumstances, filed the writ petition seeking relief, including action against the senior students and the refunding of her admission fees and an order of Rs. 5 lakh compensation to her.

The counsel for the institution submitted that she was not interested in pursuing the course and as such, she camouflaged her disinterest by using the term ‘ragging’.

Dismissing the contention, Mr. Justice Arumughaswamy pointed out that there was a complete failure on the principal’s part in taking action with regard to the student’s complaint. Further, the principal, who was supposed to look after the well-being of the institution and students, had failed in carrying out her obligations.

“The principal, after coming to know or after receiving the complaint, as per Rule 4 of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Ragging Rules, 1999, ought to have enquired into the complaint within 72 hours, either from her or through a senior teaching staff working in the institution. However, she failed to enquire into the complaint,” the Judge added.

The court also directed the institute to refund the admission fees. The Judge further directed the institute to pay Rs.1,000 compensation to the student and recover the same from the salary of Principal D. Grace, at a relevant point of time.