In response to the recent protests following the alleged suicide of an engineering student in Kottayam district, the Kerala government has announced the establishment of “grievance redressal cells” to address student complaints in colleges and universities across the state. The move aims to provide a platform for students to voice their concerns and seek resolution in an efficient and transparent manner.
The decision comes after Sraddha, a second-year student, was tragically found hanging in her hostel room on June 2. Students had raised allegations of harassment by teachers during internal tests, although the college management denied any knowledge of the reasons behind the student’s actions.
Various student organizations, including the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and KSU, conducted separate protest marches demanding justice for the student’s alleged suicide. As part of the newly proposed panel, principals from colleges and heads of departments in universities will act as chairpersons. Additionally, the panel will include two teachers recommended by the chairpersons, representatives from student unions, and nominees from the Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) and university syndicate. Importantly, at least one woman representative will be present in the cell.
During a press conference, Higher Education Minister R Bindu stated that the grievance redressal cell would require a quorum of seven members for its meetings. The chairpersons hold the moral responsibility to implement decisions made by the majority members. The panel’s powers have been defined, and students can approach it regarding a range of issues such as unjust denial of certificates, excessive fees, exam-related grievances, and discrimination based on caste, religion, or gender.
The new panel will address complaints of physical and mental torture inflicted by college or university authorities, teachers, staff, or fellow students. In cases where students have not received justice through existing institutional forums, they can seek resolution through the grievance redressal cell. The minister emphasized that if students remain dissatisfied with the cell’s decision, they have the right to appeal to the appellate committee or the existing tribunal, whose decisions will be final.
It is the legal responsibility of each institution to implement the final decisions, and any violation will result in strict actions, including fines, affiliation cancellation, and withdrawal of government funds. Minister Bindu also addressed concerns regarding internal marks, emphasizing that they should be used solely for evaluating students’ abilities rather than as a means of control or intimidation. Clear criteria for awarding internal marks will be issued to universities to ensure transparency and fairness.