The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union on Tuesday, January 21, challenged the fee hike through the new hostel manual in Delhi High Court and demanded that the new hostel manual ratified by the Executive Council be rejected. The students of the prestigious university have been on strike for more than two months in opposition to the fee hike, which, they allege, will lead to mass exodus of students from deprived sections. JNU Annual Report for the year 2017- 2018 showed that 40.03% of the student population of the university come from families which earn less than Rs. 1,44,000 per annum. Reports also maintain that the university, post fee hike, will become the most expensive central university in the country.
In its petition, the students body said, “On 28.10.2019, following the notice on 17.10.2019 a meeting of the IHA Committee was scheduled at 10 AM for discussion on the Draft Hostel Manual and all the proposed amendments. It is very important to note here that no members of the JNUSU were given notice or invitation through the University’s notice dated 17.10.2019. This, despite the fact that three members of the JNUSU make up the composition of the Committee as per clause 1.5.1 of the Hostel Manual. This meeting was essential in light of the impact of the amendments on the student population which is the stakeholder affected by these amendments. However, after convening this meeting, the IHA Committee was adjourned arbitrarily without consulting the JNUSU or the Hostel Presidents till further notice.”
The petition further added, “Despite adjourning the meeting of the IHA Committee on 28.10.2019 itself, the Chairperson of IHA of the Respondent University surreptitiously reconvened the IHA Committee meeting at 3:00 PM only informing the Hostel Presidents vide email sent at 2:50 PM. That is 10 minutes prior to the meeting. It is submitted that the Draft Hostel Manual was passed by the IHA Committee without even hearing the representations of the student body or the Hostel Presidents. In fact, shockingly it had come to the notice of the union that the entire deliberation was finished in 10 minutes, clearly showing malafide intention. That it is submitted that the entire process was a farce and undermined the provisions of the JNU Hostel Manual. That this IHA was conducted with mala fide intention to run the pre-intended writ of the JNU Administration.”
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The students’ union in its petition further said that the university has also refused to allow student representation on the Academic Council, despite orders of the Delhi HC recognising previously that JNUSU must be part of all welfare and statutory institutions of JNU. The petition said that the administration did not even provide relief to the students from Below Poverty Line. It said, “The Executive Council showed total non-application of mind while creating a ‘Below Poverty Line’ class of students. It is submitted that the criteria of ‘Below Poverty Line’ has not been provided in the Draft Hostel Manual. In fact, there is no clarity on the categorisation required by the BPL and how the University has the requisite data to apply the BPL category to admitted students. No clarity has been even provided in the amended IHA on this issue.”
The petition requested the court to quash the hostel manual and direct the authorities to convene a new meeting Inter Hall Administration to draft a new manual.