The Calicut University (CU) has come under fire for seeking an undertaking from its students that their admissions and degrees shall be cancelled or withdrawn if they breach the provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
The CU, following a proposal from Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, has asked the students to sign the undertaking stating that they will not demand or accept dowry, directly or indirectly.
B.G. Harindranath, former Kerala Law Secretary, felt that the order was illegal and legally unsustainable if challenged before a court of law. The Constitutional authorities should be mindful of the fact that their orders should remain in consonance with the laws passed by the legislatures. Though accepting or demanding dowry is punishable under the Act, the cancellation of a degree certificate is not contemplated under the Act, he said.
T. Asaf Ali, former director-general of prosecution, too criticised the move terming it as illegal, unconstitutional, arbitrary and a whimsical one.
A mere complaint to the police is sufficient enough for the University to deprive a candidate of his/her degree certificate, which could violate his/her Constitutional right to life and livelihood. The withdrawal of a degree for an unrelated offence will negate a person’s livelihood, which is unconstitutional, he said.
The circular negated the presumption of Indian jurisprudence that a person shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of final authority, he said.
Kaleeswaram Raj, a Supreme Court lawyer, felt that the directive was explicitly irrational and an unconstitutional one.
The awarding of a degree is based on educational parametres and cannot be linked to an extraneous act. Creating awareness against dowry is one thing. But it is absurd to seek an undertaking that he/she will not engage in a penal act, he said.
The decision is a perverse one and bad in law. There is also the likelihood of misuse of the provision, especially in matrimonial disputes, he said.
M.K. Jayaraj, CU Vice-Chancellor, said the intention was to create awareness among students about the social menace of dowry. A similar undertaking was also sought in the case of ragging, he said.