Chennai: HC reserves verdict on PIL for CBI probe into IIT-Madras student suicides

Shivani Ramakrishnan
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Three students have killed themselves in IIT Madras this year. (File Photo: IIT-Madras)

The Madras High Court Tuesday reserved its verdict on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking CBI investigation into suicides at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M).

The PIL was filed by the Loktantrik Yuva Janata Dal on November 25.

“In the last two years, there were five suicides at IIT Madras. The reason I had filed the PIL is because I want to stop student suicides at all IITs in the country," Saleem Madavoor, the national president of Loktantrik Yuva Janata Dal (LYJD), who had filed the writ petition, told Indianexpress.com.

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Last year, IIT-M had been rocked by two suicides as Shahal Kormath from Kerala took his life in September, followed by assistant professor Aditi Simha's suicide in December. This year, the institute had begun its year on a bleak note after Gopal Babu, a native of Uttar Pradesh and Ranjana Kumari, a resident of Jharkhand, committed suicide in January, followed by Fathima Latif in November.

In 2016, the campus had witnessed twin suicides when PhD scholar P Maheswari and Vijaya Lakshmi, the wife of an IIT-M professor, took their lives on the premises the same day in July.

In 2015, Nagendra Kumar Reddy from Andhra Pradesh had killed himself in September and his death was followed by Rahul Prasad's, a native of Kerala who hanged himself in his room in October.

In 2012, the institute had seen three suicides with the deaths of Uttar Pradesh native Kuldeep Yadav in April, L Nitin Kumar Reddy from Andhra Pradesh in May and Merugu Manasa from Andhra Pradesh in August.

Saleem alleged students faced discrimination in IITs. “At IITs, these students face discrimination on the basis of caste and religion. Discrimination based on language is also meted out to them, since students hailing from backward areas are unable to converse fluently in English with people hailing from affluent sections of society," he said.

Saleem said that barring Fathima, the students in the other 13 suicides had all hailed from poor families. This prompted the LYJD president to file a writ petition urging the CBI to investigate the suicides. “Fathima's case got a lot of media coverage and some enquiry is still on. My request is to enquire into all the other student suicides," said Saleem.

Counsel for the case and Tamil Nadu state president of LYJD, V Rajagopal, told indianexpress.com that the government's counsel had said in court that apart from Fathima's case, complaints were not filed in any other suicide.

The case had been heard by a bench comprising justices M Sathyanarayan and R Hemalatha on December 3. Rajagopal said the court had reserved its judgment after deliberation and a verdict was expected anytime.

Saleem said he had also registered a case with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the student suicides.