CHENNAI: Taking serious objection to the ‘beauty queen’ contest conducted during a cultural programme at the Central Engineering College, attached to the Anna University in Guindy, the Madras High Court has directed the State government to ban such ‘ramp walking’ shows in educational institutions.
A circular must be issued forthwith to all educational institutions, universities and deemed universities and colleges affiliated to various universities in the State to ban or not to conduct any such beauty shows or any programme to decide the best looking female/male student in the institution or in any event organised at inter-college level, Justice TS Sivagnanam said.
The judge made this observation while passing interim orders on February 3 on a writ petition from Lakshmi Suresh praying for a direction to the college and organisers of the cultural programme to award the prizes as assured and advertised to her daughter Akshaya PS, who participated in the TECHOFES conducted in the college premises in February 2013 and won the first prize in the beauty contest. She also prayed for a direction to pay compensation of Rs five lakh for violation of the fundamental right relating to dignity, decency and decorum of her daughter by way of degrading treatment and thereby spoiling her moral values.
According to the petitioner, the Students Association and Arts Society (SAAS) of the Engineering College, the organiser of the TECHOFES, released advertisements of all sorts promising prizes worth about Rs 25 lakh. The sponsors of the event included Airtel, Vodafone, Saint Gobain and Canara Bank. The winning prize for the beauty contest included a Scooty-pep, an android mobile and lots of gift vouchers, besides cash of Rs 10,000. The participants were told to be ready to do anything to entertain the crowd and attract attention.
Akshaya, a student of Sathyabhama University, was lured by the organisers to participate in the festival and in the ramp walking show, with an assurance that there would be no damage done to her dignity and moral values. Contending that the organisers have not awarded the assured prizes till date and that they have spoiled her daughter’s dignity and decorum, the mother moved the HC with the present writ petition.
The judge observed that the serious issue raised in the petition could not be decided at this juncture, particularly whether the claim for compensation was maintainable, unless and until all the respondents -- Dr M Sekar, Dean, Central Engineering College, Vignesh, president of SAAS, Sudharshan, event-in-charge and N Prabakaran event organiser -- have filed their counter-affidavits.
However, one issue which is a matter of concern is whether at all such an event (beauty contest) is required to be conducted in a cultural event, that too organised by a century-old engineering college, established and administered by the government, the judge said.
The judge gave the direction to the government and posted it to February 20.