University of Calicut’s request for dowry form draws criticism
The University of Calicut has asked students to sign the pledge stating that they will neither require nor accept a dowry, directly or indirectly.
The University of Calicut (CU) has been criticized for asking its students to pledge that their admissions and degrees be canceled or withdrawn if they violate the provisions of the dowry ban law.
The CU, following a proposal from the Governor of Kerala, Arif Mohammad Khan, asked the students to sign the pledge stating that they will neither demand nor accept a dowry, directly or indirectly.
BG Harindranath, Kerala’s former legal secretary, said the order was illegal and legally untenable if challenged in court. Constitutional authorities must bear in mind that their ordinances must remain in conformity with the laws adopted by the legislatures. Although accepting or demanding a dowry is punishable under the law, revoking a degree is not considered under the law, he said.
T. Asaf Ali, former director general of the prosecution, also criticized the decision, calling it illegal, unconstitutional, arbitrary and fanciful.
A simple complaint to the police is enough for the University to deprive a candidate of his degree, which could violate his constitutional right to life and means of subsistence. Withdrawing a degree for an unrelated offense will take away a person’s livelihood, which is unconstitutional, he said.
The circular denied the presumption in Indian case law that a person must be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent final court, he said.
Supreme Court attorney Kaleeswaram Raj said the directive was explicitly irrational and unconstitutional.
The issuance of a diploma is based on educational parameters and cannot be linked to a foreign act. Raising awareness against the dowry is one thing. But it is absurd to seek a commitment not to commit a criminal act, he said.
The decision is perverse and wrong in law. There is also a risk of abuse of the provision, especially in matrimonial disputes, he said.
CU Deputy Chancellor MP Jayaraj said the intention was to educate students about the social threat of dowry. A similar undertaking was also requested in the event of ragging, he said.