Fathima Latheef’s death: Madras HC suggests transfer of probe to CBI
Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday suggested that the investigation into the death of IIT-Madras student Fathima Latheef may be transferred to the CBI, taking into consideration the row and the protests that followed in its wake.
The court made the suggestion while dismissing a plea moved by Loktantrik Janata Dal's Kerala unit seeking a CBI probe into all "14 suicides" reported at IIT-Madras since 2006.
The petitioner had alleged that there was religious discrimination and the girl student faced harassment at the hands of some professors.
Though she named some professors in her cell phone data, till date there was no action taken either by the IIT Dean or police authorities, to arrest them, he contended.
From 2006, 14 students had committed suicide in IIT campus, the petitioner claimed. They have faced discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, language, he alleged.
Dismissing the plea, the court said "The statistics provided by the government would disclose that between February 2008 and November 2019, 16 students of IIT (M), hostellers had committed suicide, may be on account of stress and other related facts and unable to perform to their full potential. "
"It is high time that the administration of IIT shall make every endeavour to give periodical psychiatric counselling to the students," a division bench of justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha said.
It said faculty members are also under obligation to motivate, encourage the students to perform better and permanent solution is to be found as expeditiously as possible so as to prevent loss of young lives.
"It is also suggested that such psychiatric counselling should be part of the course in all educational institutions to prevent such incidents of suicide by way of instilling more confidence into the young mind," the bench added.
It noted that the court cannot issue a direction on the basis of mere sympathy or sentiment.
The court said considering the controversy and protests that followed the death, it is suggested that the investigation may be transferred to the CBI.
"Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances as well as the agony being undergone by the parents of the deceased, the investigating agency concerned is directed to file their status report before this court as to the progress being made in the investigation by January 22," it said.
Similarly, another division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee dismissed a separate plea moved by National Students Union of India (NSUI) seeking CBI probe into Fathima Latheef’s death.
The matter relates to the suicide by Fathima, a first year humanities student in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, at her hostel on November 9 over which the students and political parties including the DMK staged protests.