Vet Student ‘Suicide’: Kerala HC dismisses Suspended VC’s Petition challenging action against him

The Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed the writ petition filed by suspended Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University Vice Chancellor Dr MR Saseendranath, challenging the action against him by the Chancellor pending an inquiry into a student’s death.

Saseendranath was suspended on grounds of dereliction of duty and lack of sincerity over the suicide of J.S.Sidharthan, a second-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry student at the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at Pookode in Wayanad district.

Sidharthan was found hanging in his hostel room at the college on February 18. A huge furore had broken out after reports that Sidharthan was subjected to brutal assault from a group of students in the college, most of them belonging to the SFI, the student’s wing of the CPI-M. So far, 20 accused persons (all students) have been arrested in connection with the case, while the Vice Chancellor, Dean, and the Assistant Warden of the institute have been placed under suspension.

With the opposition parties taking up the issue and the father of the deceased demanding a CBI probe, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in March gave the nod for it, but following a delay in the issue of the necessary order, Jayaprakash, father of Sidharthan, moved the High Court, which, in April, asked the Centre to give the sanction for it.

Dismissing the VC’s petition, the court on Thursday observed: “This is a serious incident which allegedly occurred inside a college campus in front of a large number of students and the deceased was allegedly subjected to inhumane torture for days together, which ultimately led to his suicide. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that all the persons responsible for such incident and the officials who, either willfully or negligently, did not take any steps to prevent such torture, before it escalated into the death of a person, shall also be proceeded against. Therefore, I do not find it proper to interfere with the process of inquiry now in progress.”

The court also held that the arguments of the Vice Chancellor that he had no knowledge of the torture meted out to Sidharthan were not believable.

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“In such circumstances, the contention of the petitioner regarding the lack of knowledge of the torture of the deceased, until 21.02.2024, appears to be not convincing, at least prima facie. This probably suggests maladministration or dereliction of duty of the persons concerned including the petitioner (Vice Chancellor). Therefore, this is a matter to be inquired into by conducting a fair and impartial inquiry,” it added.

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