The Delhi High Court Friday directed the JNU administration to allow its students, who have not yet registered for the ongoing winter semester, to enrol as per the old Hostel Manual and without charging any late fee or penalty. A bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notice to JNU and sought its response on the Students’ Union’s plea challenging the Inter-Hall Administration decision amending the Hostel Manual which, it claimed, was passed “illegally” in October without discussion with the Union.
While directing the students to register within a week, the court suggested the JNU administration to establish dialogue with students’ representatives and resolve the issue. “You cannot say you will not engage. That’s my concern,” the judge said. It said the students of the reserved category can also register as per the old manual.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, appearing for JNU, however, contended that 90% of university students have registered themselves as per the new Hostel Manual.
The ASG opposed the court’s suggestion to keep the increased hostel fee in abeyance for the time being, in view of concerns regarding payment of salaries to the daily wage/contractual/out-sourced staff employed by them.
The court replied, “Those who have paid, have paid. If 90% have paid, then your financial concerns have been more or less taken care of… For now engage with students, have a dialogue…”
“The burden of paying salary to contractual employees cannot be put on students in government-run institutions. You (varsity) need to find the money. Maybe the Ministry of Human Resource Development can find the funds. The government has to fund public education. It cannot get out of it,” it added.
The ASG, who was accompanied by advocates Balendu Shekhar, Harsh Ahuja and Kushal Sharma, further told the court that the new manual was introduced as per communications from the UGC and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The ASG said the University Grants Commission was already in dialogue with the students.
Noting that MHRD and UGC are not party to the hearing, it sought their stand on the issue raised in a petition filed by JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, its vice-president, general secretary and joint secretary. The court listed the matter for further hearing on February 28. The petitioners were represented by senior counsel Akhil Sibal and advocates Abhik Chimni and Aman Shukla.
Sibal argued that the decision-making process was undertaken without any student representation, which defeats the mandate of the Hostel Manual of including the views of the stakeholders when changing its provisions.
In their plea, Ghosh and others challenged the “minutes of the 283rd Meeting of the Executive Council (EC) dated 13.11.2019 ratifying the IHA decision and the High level committee dated 25.11.2019 making further amendments to the Hostel Manual.”
Under the new hostel fee rules, students were supposed to pay a service charge of Rs 1,700 per month. However, this charge was later revoked by the administration. Rent for a single room has been increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, and for a double-sharing room from Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month.
The petition has sought direction to the JNU to “refund the excess fees collected from the students as per the Draft Hostel Manual or in the alternative, for the fee to be adjusted as per the un-amended Hostel Manual in the upcoming Monsoon Semester, i.e., July 2020”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines