Kerala HC Strikes Down College Hostel Rule Prohibiting Mobile Use

An aided college under the Calicut University instructed female students not to use mobile phones between 10 pm and 6 am.

Kochi: In a significant verdict, the Kerala high court on Thursday held enforcement of discipline shall not be by blocking the ways and means of students to acquire knowledge, as it directed readmission of a girl student expelled from her college hostel for opposing a regulation on the use of mobile phones.

The court allowed the petition filed by the 18-year old undergraduate student of an aided college under the Calicut University, challenging her expulsion from the hostel on the grounds of unwillingness to obey the rules prohibiting inmates of girl hostel from using mobile phones between 6 pm and 10 pm.

“I am of the view that imposing such restrictions are unreasonable and therefore the respondent shall re-admit the petitioner in the hostel without any further delay,” Justice P.V. Asha said in her order.

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The judge struck down hostel rules enacted by the college preventing inmates of girls hostel from using mobile phones between 10 pm and 6 am. The court said when the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has found that right to access to internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure right to education, a rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of law.

As per the university regulations as well as the University Grants Commission regulations, the college is bound to run a hostel to enable the students reside near the institution in order to enable them to have sufficient time to concentrate on their studies, it said. Therefore, the hostel authorities are expected to enforce only those regulations for enforcing discipline.

Enforcement of discipline shall not be by blocking the ways and means of the students to acquire knowledge, the judge added. The hostel rules had also prevented the undergraduate students from using laptop in the hostel. The court in its order, however, made it clear that the petitioner or any other inmate shall also see that no disturbance was caused to others by usage of mobile phone in the hostel.