Sushant Rohilla


On 11th July 2017, a Delhi High Court bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Najmi Waziri made an acute oral observation on the failure of the Indian education system as a whole, while hearing the Supreme Court plea initiated in September 2016, regarding Sushant Rohilla’s alleged suicide. On the matter, which was transferred to the Delhi HC in March 2017, the bench made a scathing remark: “It (the education system) is completely dehumanised. It is a machine. The human element has been completely taken out. The contact between teacher and student is perfunctory… We seem to be mass producing clones… You must conform at all costs, else retribution is swift.”

The bench also remarked directly upon Amity Law University’s “element of callousness” in handling the sensitive issue, as Rohilla was a third-year student there, barred from sitting in the semester examinations due to low attendance. “The student reached out to you. He cried out for help. But did you respond?” the court asked of the varsity, which continued to defend its attendance norms as a basic system of checks and balances meant to establish discipline. This system, however, is not above offering assistance to its students and accommodating improvements where necessary, Amity also claimed. The varsity is affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), which was given the  last chance to file an affidavit recording its stance on the subject.

Sushant Rohilla’s classmates took to social media with a fervour post his death, alleging his harassment and charging the teachers with apathy and negligence. So far, the outrage fuelled online has caused two of the professors to resign. Most significantly, it was a letter written by Raghav Sharma, another final year student of Amity and a close friend of Rohilla, to the then CJI TS Thakur, which caused this PIL to be instituted in court. In the letter, Sharma puts the blame squarely upon the shoulders of the Amity authorities, citing reasons including medical issues which first prevented Rohilla from attending the classes, leading to his lack of attendance, then a severe depression at being barred from the exams, and all of it culminating in a suicide by hanging, at his own house on 10th August 2016.

The court appointed amicus curiae has intervened after examining a “shocking” status report filed by the Delhi Police, which not only did not consider the examination of any person necessary with regard to the complaint but also insinuated that the suicide note may not have been written by Rohilla himself. Unconvinced, the court has asked for a transfer of the “compromised” investigation, to be monitored by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi). The DCP must now file a detailed probe report before the next hearing on 8th August 2017.

So far, all the elements in the case seem to be working against Amity and the varsity’s officials involved. But most importantly, the court’s statement takes into account what the current education system and inhumane red-tapism tend to leave out—the worth of a student’s life. It is an essential point raised, and one which directly concerns all students pursuing or hoping to pursue a higher education in the country. Minimum attendance as a pre-requisite for marks and entry to exam halls has been a matter of much discontent and protests in the last few years in the University of Delhi (DU) too, with ECA and Sports quota students especially crying foul. Those against the mandate argue about the injustice of having to sit in class, even when unable to, for reasons ranging from serious health issues to a simple lack of interest in certain lectures. University students, after all, are responsible adults in the making. Why must they be robbed of the autonomy to choose and to make the simple decision of which classes to attend, and which to skip out? Only time will tell what the verdict on Rohilla’s case shall be, yet the court has made a vital statement in the initial hearing itself, giving hopes to the entire student community.

Image credits: Hindustan Times


Deepannita Misra

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Last week, reports of Sushant Rohilla, a fourth year law student from IP-Amity committed suicide for being debarred from giving his exams over short attendance. The student had an attendance of 43% where the required amount of attendance was 75%.  Then where was the University’s fault?

IP-Amity has been known to allow students with attendance starting from 50% to sit for examinations. “Our college has strict attendance rules, yes, but they do bend them at times. Just last year, a girl had to participate in the Ms. India competition and faced no attendance issues at all,” said a source on the promise of anonymity.

It has been widely reported that Sushant was a good student academically and was an excellent debater. He had won several moot courts and was even the convener of the debating society of the college, who won many laurels for the college and even when he had a fractured leg, was fetching sponsorships for the college. The college did not accept his medical application, informed Sushant about debarring him only a few days before exams began and paid no heed to his requests and pleas.

On speaking to a couple of students from the college, we got to know about Sushant’s personal relations with the teacher, which came into play in this case. The teacher let her personal bias get in the way of allowing Sushant to sit for his exams or accepting his medical application. The alumnus of the college along with the current batches have also formed a close group on Facebook, where many pass out students have shared personal accounts of facing back handed harassment by the authorities over attendance issues.

In most colleges, ECA regulations are in place; which allow students to participate in extra curricular activities without the sword of attendance hanging over their heads. It is the prime purpose of a university to impart education and wisdom in students and not stress. The need of our universities to change existing regulations seems dire in the light of  mass protests.

It has also brought to fore and compelled us to think about the kind of society that we live in, where repeating a year in college, or failing in academics is condemned to be the worst possible thing to happen to a person. In a recent development, the teachers in question have resigned after facing severe backlash by the students of the college.

Akshara Srivastava
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