Aligarh: The Allahabad High Court on Friday "expressed displeasure" over Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Lieutenant General Zameer Uddin Shah's decision to uphold ban on girls from accessing the varsity's library.
The court has also sought response of the VC on a public interest litigation seeking direction to the varsity authorities to allow entry of women students into the Maulana Azad Library.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PKS Baghel issued notice to the VC on the PIL filed by law intern and activist Deeksha Dwivedi and sought a reply November 24.
"Expressing displeasure" over undergraduate girls being denied access to the library, the court said it was the duty of the varsity administration to allow their entry and fix whatever problems come in the way of doing so, Dwivedi said.
In the PIL, it has been alleged that the AMU VC was adopting a "discriminatory" attitude towards girl students by refusing to allow their entry into the library.
Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani had called the reports of the AMU VC's decision "hurting and agitating".
The ministry, through the secretary of higher education, had also sought information on the incident. On Thursday, the Aligarh Muslim University informed the HRD Ministry that a request by undergraduate girls of the Women's College for access to the central library is under consideration.
Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Lieutenant General Zameer Uddin Shah had on Monday turned down a demand from students of Women's College for access to the university's Maulana Azad Library, saying that there would be "four times more boys" in the library if girls were allowed in.
However, he had on Tuesday said that his statement has been sensationalised.
"These reports are completely wrong. I said there is no space for even a single seat in that library. We are not sexist and we also want women empowerment and certainly don't want to segregate our girls," Shah said.
The VC had also stated in his defence that the distance between women's college for undergraduates and the library was about three kilometres and the route was prone to incidents like eve-teasing and chain-snatching.
Defending himself, Shah added: "In the women's college we have given grants of Rs 11 lakh so that the library could be improved with air conditioners like in the Maulana Azad Library. Every book which is there at Maulana Library is already available online for the girls."
Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla had said that such statements coming from the head of an institution are "shocking".
Congress leader Rashid Alvi condemned the statement, adding that it was "disrespectful" towards women.
The girl students want access to the Maulana Azad central library as a matter of right which has long been denied to them by successive vice chancellors.
(With Agency inputs)