NEW DELHI: Institutions found negligent in preventing discrimination may face a fine of Rs 50 lakh, according to a new amendment proposed by the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.
The ministry plans to introduce a provision in the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill to ensure that institutions will be held responsible for discrimination on the basis of caste, gender or religion. The move comes after a mounting number of complaints from colleges, including the recent suicide of a Dalit student at AIIMS.
A HRD ministry official said that institutes could attract a penalty - ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 50 lakh - if evidence was found that the college had not worked actively to prevent discrimination against a student. The bill will have to be cleared by the Union Cabinet.
The complaints will be dealt with an internal committee of the institution initially. If the student fails to get redressal s/he will have the option of approaching an ombudsman who will be tasked with conducting an independent assessment. "The student can approach the tribunal who will go by the ombudsman's report, if there is a case of negligence," the official said.
There have been an increasing number of complaints from educational institutions especially medical colleges. According to National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) chairman P L Punia, complaints have come from premier institutions. "Earlier, people used to accept discrimination as their fate. Now, they feel there is a redressal mechanism and we have seen an increase in the number of cases," he said.
Some of the complaints that the Commission have received include a suicide in September, 2011, of a metallurgical engineering student at IIT-Kanpur. There was an instance of 25 students failing in Burdwan Medical College. Punia said that almost all the students passed when they sat for the exam the next time.