Three weeks after Amity Law School student Sushant Rohilla killed himself after being denied permission to write his exams for lack of attendance, the country’s highest court has heard his family and friends’ appeal for justice.
The Supreme Court will on Monday take up as a PIL a letter written to Chief Justice of India T S Thakur and other judges by Sushant’s friend Raghav Sharma on August 20, requesting them to not allow Sushant’s death to remain just another incident of a student’s suicide.
Raghav, along with Sushant’s sister Mehek and uncle Dinesh, had earlier taken the campaign to social media, creating the hashtag #JusticeForSushant.
The 21-year-old third year law student had hanged himself at his home in Delhi on August 10 after Amity barred him from sitting for semester exams because he did not have the requisite attendance. Sushant left behind a note saying he was a failure, and did not wish to live.
A week after the incident, Amity Law School had said in a statement that Sushant had 43 per cent attendance and this had been “conveyed to his parents many times through mail”. The school is affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh IP University, the statement said, and “the attendance, as per the rules of IP University, was sent to IP, which has the sole discretion to issue admit cards… for sitting in examinations.”
It added, “Amity Law School itself had absolutely no role.”
Nine days after Sushant’s suicide, two faculty members, B P Singh Sehgal and Isheeta Rutabhasini, resigned amid protests by students and the family. The Amity administration maintained both had left on their own, taking into account the sentiments of students.
In his emotionally charged letter, Raghav wrote proudly about Sushant’s good performance in examinations and his exceptional debating skills, and accused the college of being extremely unfair to his friend. Sushant, the letter claimed, was forced to repeat an entire academic year in the five-year BA LLB course because he had failed to maintain 75 per cent attendance, despite having bone fide reasons for missing college.
Raghav, a fourth year student of the same college, wrote that before taking the extreme step, Sushant had written to the founder president of the Amity Group, pleading with him to allow him to sit for the semester exam, since he had valid reasons for not being able to attend classes.
In his email to the founder president, Sushant had underscored his accomplishments in moot court competition and other extra curricular activities, and written that debarment from the exam would destroy him, and he might not “mentally survive” it.
Raghav accused a particular member of the Amity faculty of constantly harassing Sushant, and alleged that despite complaints by students, the college administration had not conducted a fair inquiry. The letter to the CJI and other judges pointed out that Sushant’s family had filed a criminal complaint, accusing the teacher of abetment to suicide, and asking that the college be tried for being “institutional abettors”.
Raghav’s letter was placed before the Supreme Court’s PIL committee, comprising Justices Anil R Dave and J S Khehar, which directed the registry to treat it as a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution since it raised issues of violation of fundamental rights of students.
Raghav has requested the top court to constitute an independent committee to probe Sushant’s suicide following alleged prolonged harassment and torture by the college administration, and the particular teacher. He also urged the court to formulate rules and regulations for all colleges and institutes of higher education across the country to look into mental health issues being faced by students, for which there is no redressal.