'When you don't have a choice, what do you do?' Delhi High Court directs JNU to register students at old rates

The decision is being called a 'big win' for the students of JNU.

BySamyak Jain
'When you don't have a choice, what do you do?' Delhi High Court directs JNU to register students at old rates
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On January 24, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court asked the Jawaharlal Nehru University administration to register the students who haven't yet registered for the ongoing winter session as per the old hostel charges.

Students of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University had been protesting for the past three months against the hike in fees along with other “draconian” rules proposed in the new inter-hall manual.

Arguing against the petition which was filed by Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh and the other office bearers, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said that 90 percent of the students had already registered as per the new Inter-Hall Manual.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher replied: "When you don't have a choice, what do you do?" He directed the university to not charge a late fee from the remaining students.

He continued, “If 90 percent have paid, then your financial concerns have been more or less taken care of. Rest of the funds you can arrange.” He also urged JNU officials to engage in a dialogue with the students over the ongoing tussle.

In addition, the court asked for a response from the university on the petition. The central government and the University Grants Commission have also been made parties to the case.The plea challenged the minutes of the inter-hostel administration meeting issued on October 28, 2019, and the recommendations of the high-level committee constituted on November 24.Advocate Akhil Sibal, representing the case for JNUSU, argued that the old hostel manual was altered without consulting representatives of the student body. He claimed that some of the students had paid the increased fee out of fear.The petitioners also objected to the introduction of Below Poverty Line/Economic Weaker Section category in the hostel manual, calling it irrational and arbitrary. The petition read: “There was no explanation as to how such category was to be made applicable or identified when ‘Merit-cum-Means Scholarships’ category was already existing in the university.”

Following the court’s direction, the JNUSU released a statement: “The JNUSU is grateful to the Hon'ble High Court for granting this relief. We wish to appeal to the student community to take registration at the old rates within the next week. We also wish to inform the administration that we have always been open for dialogue.”The case is due for further hearing on February 28.

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