PRESS RELEASE: The High Court issued an order of stay on the notice issued by Jagannath University authorities directing every married and pregnant female student to vacate a hall of residence
প্রেস বিজ্ঞপ্তি: বিবাহিত এবং অন্তঃসত্ত্বা শিক্ষার্থীদের হল ছাড়ার নির্দেশ প্রদান সংক্রান্ত জগন্নাথ বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় কর্তৃপক্ষের জারিকৃত নোটিশের উপর হাইকোর্টের স্থগিতাদেশ প্রদান
Today, 31 October 2023, the Hon’ble High Court issued a Rule Nisi upon the Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Proctor, and Provost, Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib Hall, Jagannath University to show cause as to why the notice issued by the Provost directing all married and pregnant female students in the university to vacate the hall of residence should not be declared to be without lawful authority and discriminatory. The Court also passed an order staying operation of the notice.
The Court further issued a direction on the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission to file a detailed report before the Court by 7 February 2024 on any prevailing rules and regulations applied in Universities furthering discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status and health status and ensuring equality before law and equal right to education for women and men.
The petitioners’ lawyer, Advocate Aynunnahar Siddika said, “It is unfortunate that 50 years after promulgation of the Constitution, a university can issue such a notice. Education is our fundamental right, but the university authorities have violated the fundamental rights and human rights of women by issuing such a notice.”
Sara Hossain, Senior Advocate, and Honorary Executive Director of BLAST, also commented, “It is astonishing that universities are still discriminating against married and pregnant female students despite our state policies and constitutional commitments to ensure women’s rights and empowerment. I hope that the timely intervention of the High Court will help remove these legal obstacles to attaining women’s equal rights.”
These orders were made in a public interest litigation (Writ Petition No. 13478/2023) filed by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Bangladesh Mohila Porishod, Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Naripokkho, SERAC Bangladesh, and BRAC as petitioners on 30 October 2023.
A Division Bench of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, comprising Justice Naima Haider and Justice Kazi Zinat Hoque, issued the Rule. Sara Hossain, Senior Advocate, appeared for the petitioners, with Aynunnahar Siddika, Ayesha Akhter, Priya Ahsan Chowdhury, and Nazmul Karim, Advocates. Deputy Attorney General Advocate Amit Das Gupta was present on behalf of the Government.
On 25 September 25 2023, the Provost of Begum Fazilatunnessa Mujib Hall of Jagannath University issued a notice directing married and pregnant female students to vacate the hall. The notice, referred to a Rule 17 of the Terms of Residence and Accommodation and Conduct and Discipline Rules 2021, stating that married and pregnant female students will not get residential seats. Subsequently, BLAST and the CSO Forum for Strengthening Sustainable SRHR Ecosystems in Bangladesh, a network of development and rights organisations, including all the petitioners, submitted a complaint in this regard to the National Human Rights Commission seeking its intervention to review the matter and to consult with stakeholders.
BLAST had earlier filed a series of applications under the Right to Information Act to universities across the country, and from the responses received, found that several universities continue to include gender-discriminatory rules and regulations imposing restrictions on who women students can meet (only parents, siblings, or husbands) and when they can leave their halls, undermining their right to assembly and association, as well as movement. Moreover, some universities still appear to have rules in place barring married or pregnant female students from living in halls of residence.
For more information, please contact
• Communications Department, BLAST, Email: email@example.com
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