The Calcutta High Court in a petition filed by the father of a student of mechanical engineering whose body was found in his hostel room of the college on October 14, 2022, has directed the IIT Kharagpur Director to take stringent steps over his death.

The Court said that the incidence of ragging can scar the victim students psychologically for varying periods of time.

A Single Bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha held, “The incidence of any form of ‘ragging’ makes things only worse for such students. It can scar the victim students psychologically for varying periods of time. In some cases it remains for long years in the psyche of the student and in some others permanently. … It is expected that stern stringent and deterrent measures shall be taken by the IIT, Kharagpur in respect of this incident and also to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.”

The Bench observed that it is concerned about the well-being of the students seeking special high-level scientific and technical education in this country.

“Appropriate counseling, sessions, starting at the ground level, shall be ensured and put in place by the Director, IIT, Kharagpur. The Director shall be personally responsible for implementing the aforesaid”, the Court further ordered.

The Court has also requested the Advocate General of the State to assist in this matter.

Advocate Ranajit Chatterjee appeared for the petitioner while Senior Advocate Anindya Kumar Mitra appeared for the IIT.

In this case, the Director of IIT Kharagpur was present in the court as per a direction by it concerning the petition. The father of the deceased student, hailing from Assam's Tinsukia district, was seeking the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the unnatural death of his son.

The High Court in the aforesaid context noted, “IIT, Kharagpur is a premier institute in the country imparting education in, inter alia, technology and science. A large number of students with superior intellectual abilities, from different economic and social backgrounds and have different emotional quotients come here. In most cases they may not at all able to freely interact and mix with students coming from other backgrounds. This has impacted their behavioural patterns, sometimes restricting free expression and interaction.”

It was also noted by the Court that such incidents can have a devastating effect on the present and future, personal and working, lives of the students and that the intellectual growth, well-being, and development of society and the nation can be therefore be adversely impacted as a consequence of the menace called “Ragging”.

“This Court requests the learned Advocate General of the State to assist in the instant matter. Learned counsel for the petitioner and the IIT, Kharagpur shall supply all the pleadings and reports and orders in the matter to the learned Advocate General by Tuesday (24.01.2023)”, the Court said.

The Court ordered that the matter be listed on February 6 as “Specially Fixed” to ascertain the status of the investigation by the State Police.

“On the adjourned date the case diary shall be produced and this Court shall be apprised either in the form of a report in writing or orally as to the status of the investigation. The compliance of the aforesaid directions by the IIT kharagpur shall be considered on 13th February, 2023 when the matter is again listed”, the Court further ordered.

Accordingly, the Court issued directions to the Director of IIT Kharagpur.

Cause Title- Salim Ahmed and Anr. v. State of West Bengal & Ors.

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