Indian Institute of Technology-Madras student Fathima Latheef’s suicide case has been referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation by the Tamil Nadu government.The State took this decision after Fathima’s family insisted that the case should be transferred to the CBI.
The Madras High Court had dismissed a PIL, filed by the National Students Union of India, seeking CBI probe, due to lack of evidence. However, the HC also suggested that the investigation may be transferred to the CBI, taking into consideration the row and the protests that followed in its wake.
It said, “Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances as well as the agony of the parents, the investigating agency concerned is directed to file their status report before this court as to the progress being made in the investigation by January 22.”
The petitioner had alleged that there was religious discrimination and the girl student faced harassment at the hands of some professors. Though she named some professors in her cell phone data, till date, no action was taken either by the IIT Dean or police authorities, to arrest them, he contended.
A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha said, “It is high time that the administration of IIT makes every endeavour to give periodical psychiatric counselling to the students.”
The bench added, “It is also suggested that such psychiatric counselling should be part of the course in all educational institutions to prevent such incidents of suicide by way of instilling more confidence into the young mind.”
Police investigations suspected that the student, a native of Kerala, was depressed because of poor performance in the examinations. Police initially believed that her low marks were the reason behind taking the dire step.
However, her family claimed that her suicide note revealed she was constantly under harassment by her professor at IIT Madras and said, “it hurt her dignity”. Fathima Latheef’s father alleged that his daughter was subjected to religious discrimination by a faculty member.