Madras HC bans ‘beauty contests’ in educational institution
The Madras High Court has banned beauty contests and peagents in schools and colleges across Tamil Nadu:
Madras High Court
Mrs. Lakshmi Suresh v. Dr. M. Sekar
W.P.No.21885 of 2013
Coram: Justice T. S. Sivagnanam
- A serious issue has been brought to the notice of this Court by way of this writ petition. The petitioner is the mother of a student, who is pursuing her engineering course in a College in Chennai. The petitioner seeks for issuance of Writ of Mandamus against the Dean of the Anna University and the Event Organisers of a cultural event “TECHOFES” conducted during February 2013 to pay compensation of Rs.5,00,000/- for the violation of her fundamental rights, digging her dignity, decency and decorum and degrading treatment which spoiled her moral values and harmed her daughter mentally.
- It appears that a cultural festival was conducted by an Engineering College and the petitioner’s daughter participated in various programmes. From the typed set of papers, which contains information downloaded from the website, which appears to have been hosted by the students, who were incharge of organising the event, it is seen that event called “MR & MS TECHOFES” was conducted. The website information states the rules to be followed to participate in the said programme etc. The website also carries logo – “College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai”.
- It is not known as to whether the information published in the website by the organisers has been approved by the Dean of the Anna University, the first respondent.
- The learned counsel appearing for the Anna University, on written instruction, states that Anna University has not approved any such information hosted in the website.
- This Court is not inclined to straightaway accept the said submission made by the learned counsel appearing for the Anna University without any counter-affidavit from the Anna University, more particularly, when the programme was conducted in the premises of the University. It cannot be stated that the officials of the University are not aware of various events, which are mentioned in the programme and it can be presumed that the programme schedule containing the detail of event to be conducted would have to be approved by the University before any event is conducted.
- In the instant case, it has been brought to the knowledge of this Court about the unpleasant turn of events faced by the petitioner’s daughter, who appears to have been participated in “MR & MS TECHOFES” contest and she is aggrieved by conduct of the organisers and stated that the certificate issued by the organisers is a forged mentioning her daughter has secured first place in the event and according to the petitioner, the certificate itself is bogus and the correctness of the said certificate has to be examined.
- The issue raised in this writ petition cannot be decided at this juncture more particularly whether the claim for payment of compensation is maintainable unless and until all the respondents have filed their counter-affidavit. However, one issue which is a matter of concern is whether at all such an event (i.e) to select the best looking male/female student is required to be conducted in a cultural event, that too organised by a century old Engineering College, established and administered by the Government. Fanciful prize money is being advertised, several Corporate giants fund the programme. The larger question would be the need for such a programme in such cultural festivals. It has been said that such festivals fosters better interaction among students and brings out their talents. It is not known as to how “walking the ramp” would benefit a student pursuing a course in Engineering. However, before orders are passed after hearing the respondent University and the other respondents, this Court deem it appropriate to issue certain interim directions to prevent any unpleasant event to occur as projected by the petitioner. The Court has to examine whether the University exercises due care and control over these programmes, whether any guidelines have been issued as to which authority of the University monitors the programme, how the funds are administered etc. Till these issues are considered the Secretary, Higher Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, the Commissioner of Technical Education and the Director of Collegiate Education are directed to issue a Circular forthwith to all the Institutions, Universities, Deemed Universities and Colleges affiliated to various Universities in the State of Tamil Nadu to ban or not to conduct any beauty shows or any programme to decide best looking male/female student in their Institution or in any event organised at Inter-College level.
Post on 20.2.2015 for filing counter-affidavit by the respondents.
(1)Issue tomorrow (4.2.2015)
(2)Registry to communicate this order forthwith to –
(i) The Secretary, Higher Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu.
(ii) The Commissioner of Technical Education, Chennai. (iii)The Director of Collegiate Education, Chennai.
W.P.No.21885 of 2013
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