The University of Calicut in the state of Kerala has ordered that all colleges affiliated to it, will have to make students sign an undertaking, stating that they will neither demand or give dowry during their wedding. The rule, which will come into effect from the academic year 2021-22, comes at a time when Kerala has reported a series of deaths due to dowry harassment. The college warned that any students who violate the undertaking could have their admissions to the colleges cancelled or even their degrees revoked.
"In the context of frequent reporting of dowry deaths related to domestic violence, the Chancellor has proposed to obtain a declaration from all the stakeholders of the universities, of not demanding or accepting dowry, directly or indirectly abetting the giving or taking of dowry. Therefore, the Vice Chancellor has ordered to obtain a declaration in the enclosed proforma from the students and parents, at the time of admission," a circular dated September 15, which came to light earlier this week, states.\
"Hence, it is strictly directed to obtain a declaration of not demanding or accepting dowry, directly or indirectly abetting the giving and taking of dowry in the proforma attached, from each student and parent at the time of admission. It is also instructed to obtain the declaration from the students who have already been admitted during the academic year 2021-22," it added.
The undertaking states that "I ____(name of student) do hereby undertake that I shall not give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry, or demand, directly or indirectly from the parents or guardians of the bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry."
Stating that dowry shall be defined the same way as it has been in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the undertaking further adds, "I aver in the full understanding that any breach of the rules or law relating to or taking or abetting the taking of dowry shall render me liable for appropriate action including cancellation of my admission to the university/not being granted degree/withdrawal of degree."
Speaking to TNM about whether the college has the power to revoke a degree that has been awarded, noted social scientist and academic Rajan Gurukkal told TNM that a degree awarded can be cancelled with the permission of the Chancellor of the university. "Degrees are awarded by the Vice-Chancellors on behalf of the Chancellor. To award degrees too, the Chancellorâ€™s assent is needed. This circular on dowry was brought out to ensure social mobilisation in the wake of dowry cases, which has become such a grave issue, and to increase awareness among students about that. This must have been done to urge students to make a decision on such things, not the parents, who could intervene to accept dowry as property or cash. For those above 18, nothing can be done against their will,â€ť he said.
Kerala, in the recent past, witnessed deaths of young women allegedly caused by harassment over dowry. Vismaya, a 22-year-old from Kollam, was found dead in the house of her husband, S Kiran Kumar, on June 21. On June 22, 24-year-old Archanaâ€™s immolated body was found in the house where she and her husband Suresh had been living.
In July this year, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, while addressing a meeting of Vice-Chancellors, said creating a mindset which refuses to accept the practice of dowry, was the need of the hour. Pointing out that universities had a great role in the matter, Khan suggested two affidavits from students against dowry, one at the time of admission and the second while receiving the degree. "Social evils begin in the mind, defence against them should also begin in the minds. The mission of universities is to mould minds," he had said.
Khan, who had also observed a day-long fast to highlight the issue, also welcomed the prompt move of the Kerala government to post Dowry Prohibition Officers in all districts and at state level and on the decision to make employees sign an undertaking on not taking or giving dowry.
With IANS inputs