The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Christian Church Medical College, in the outskirts of Kochi, decided to collect urine samples from students.

Kerala college seeks students urine samples to test for drug abuse gets slammed
news Controversy Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 16:41

A Medical college in Kolenchery, Kerala, is in the midst of a controversy for seeking urine samples of its students to check for drug abuse. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Christian Church Medical College, in the outskirts of Kochi, decided to collect urine samples from students as the management believed that there was increasing prevalence of substance abuse among students.

The college however said in a circular that students would be selected randomly and subjected to urine test. All students were asked to co-operate with these tests.

A circular issued by Dean Dr KK Diwakar, on January 17 read, “The kit for urine analysis for substance abuse (drugs) is now available. It has been decided to implement urine analysis for students. The test would be conducted on students randomly selected. The assistant professor of Forensic Medicine is authorised to conduct the test among MBBS students. All students are requested to co-operate for implementing the same.”

Following this, student bodies opposed the decision on social media and other platforms as it violated the rights of the students.

“There are many other ways to check for substance abuse. You can check rooms, bags etc. Taking urine samples without the consent of the students is definitely not right and we will be pushing for appropriate action against this decision by the college. I had personally spoken to a few students and they said the decision was taken without proper consent of the students. We will speak to the State Human Rights Commission,” Kerala Students Union state president KM Abhijit told TNM.

He also said that they would file a complaint against this regressive action by the college.

In response to the furore, the Medical College denied making the urine test mandatory and in a clarification order issued on January 19, said that a written consent letter from students would be obtained before the test.

“In response to the comments, clarifications and queries sought through various means of communication including social media, the order dated 17.1.2019 regarding substance abuse was found misinterpreted. Hence the following clarification has been issued.

Taking cognisance of the repeated cautions and warnings issued by various government authorities, regarding the prevalence and vulnerability of the youth of our country to substance abuse, this institution has initiated steps for early detection and prevention of substance among the students.

The screening would be conducted on students, based on the written, informed, witnessed consent already obtained from students as well as their parents according to the revised admission rules of the institution,” the new circular signed by Dean Dr. KK Diwakar said.

According to reports, the State Human Rights Commission was pursuing reports to find out if there was any legal scope to open a suo motu inquiry into the incident.

The college had also reportedly bought kits to test for marijuana, alcohol and opioid drugs.