New Delhi: In a major relief to students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who have been agitating for close to four month against the steep hike in hostel fees, the Delhi High Court on Friday said students who have not yet registered for the new academic year, may do so under the old hostel manual. It also asked the JNU administration to extend the last date of registration by a week without imposing any late fine.
The HC has also sought the response of the university on the plea by the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) challenging the decision to amend the hostel manual.
A bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher also issued notices to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and University Grants Commission (UGC), which were impleaded in the matter.
Welcoming the court’s decision, the JNUSU said it was “grateful to the Hon’ble High Court for granting this relief,” and appealed to the student community to register themselves at the old rates within a week.
The plea, filed by JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh and other office bearers Saket Moon, Satish Chandra Yadav and Md Danish, challenged the minutes of the Inter Hostel Administration (IHA) issued on October 28, last year, jurisdiction of the High Level Committee constituted on November 24 and recommendations made by it.
The petition had sought directions to quash the Draft Hostel Manual "illegally approved by the IHA as the decisions taken by the IHA are malafide, arbitrary and illegal and adversely affect the students".
It claimed the decisions to bring about amendments in the hostel manual were contrary to provisions of the JNU Act, 1966, Statutes, Ordinances and the Hostel Manual.
"The amendments include reducing JNUSU representation in IHA, increased rates as applicable to hostel residents and also brought amendments to clauses of the Hostel Manual adversely affecting reserved category students in the University," the plea had submitted.
The JNU administration had hiked hostel rent for all students, including those with Junior Research Fellowship, Senior Research Fellowship and other equivalent scholarships or fellowships, for single and double-seater rooms to Rs 600 and Rs 300 per month.
The rent for Below Poverty Line (BPL) category students for double and single-seater rooms has been increased to Rs 150 and Rs 300 per month respectively.
Earlier, there was no utility and service charge, but now the university said it would charge BPL students Rs 500 and other students Rs 1,000 for the same.
The petition in the high court had also challenged the minutes of IHA Meeting which states that mess services sanitation services, room charges, amongst others category of charges will be increased by 10% every academic year.
Contending that hike in the hostel fees would direct impact the future of students, the plea sought directions restraining the varsity from taking any actions which would give effect to the draft hostel manual.
It had also sought directions to restrain the university from registering students for the new term on the basis of the new fee structure through its circular for registration in Winter Semester-2020.
After the HC decision, the JNUSU said it would continue the struggle against the “regressive hostel manual”. Incidentally, the HC also directed the JNU administration to hold dialogue with the students to resolve the issue.
After the steep hostel fee hike, JNU has been in the news months with students unitedly launching an agitation against it, with the JNUSU even calling for a boycott of the registration process. It was this prolonged agaitation that was in the backdrop of the recent violence in the campus when masked persons entered the premises, watched over by the police and the administration and bashing up students and teachers, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, who received 16 stitches on her forehead after being hit by iron rods.
The violence unleashed by students associated with the RSS-affiliated ABVP led to nationwide outrage across the country, with many university campuses, civil society and citizens condemning the violence and standing up in solidarity with JNU students.
(with inputs from PTI)