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Delhi High Court asks JNU to register students as per old hostel manual

In a relief for students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who have been on strike for three months over hike in hostel fees, the Delhi High Court on Friday asked the varsity to register students for the new academic session as per the old hostel manual.

While directing JNU not to charge any late fee, Justice Rajiv Shakdar said those who have not yet registered could do so within one week

The court remarked that since 90 per cent of the students had registered, “the remaining 10 per cent students are concerned, they need to register within one week as per the old manual. No late fee will be charged from them”.

The order came while hearing a plea by Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU)challenging the Inter Hostel Administration (IHA) decision amending the Hostel Manual which, amongst other issues, increased the hostel fee.

The court additionally sought a response from the varsity on the petition. It also made the Central government and the University Grants Commission (UGC), a party to the case. It posted the case for further hearing on February 28.

During the hearing, senior advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for the JNUSU, argued that the old hostel manual was altered without consulting the representatives of the student body. He claimed that some of the students had paid the hiked fee in fear.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said the services and utility charges were waived by the UGC as per a Jan 9, 2020 circular.

The petition filed by JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh sought the quashing of the minutes of the 283rd Meeting of the Executive Council (EC) held on November 13 last year ratifying the IHA decision and the High level committee of November 25, 2019, making further amendments to the Hostel Manual.

The petition said, the “decisions are mala fide, arbitrary and illegal and adversely affect the student community of the University bringing far reaching changes to the provisions of the Hostel Manual”.

The amendments to the Hostel Manual include an increase in hostel fee, affects rights of those in reserved categories vis a vis allocation of hostel rooms and also reduces the representation of the JNUSU in the IHA, amongst several other changes.

The petition pointed out that the minutes of the IHA meeting also stated that mess services, sanitation services, room charges, amongst others category of charges would be increased by 10 per cent every academic year, i.e., from the Monsoon Semester.

The student union further contended that the IHA was held with no student representation, “defeating the mandate of the Hostel Manual of including the views of the stakeholders when changing the provisions of the Hostel Manual”.

Subsequent to the amendments, the JNUSU and Hostel Presidents wrote to the JNU administration on various occasions bringing to their attention the ‘illegalities’. “However, the University refused to take any action and in fact allowed the ratification of this illegal meeting,” the petition stated.

It had asked the court to quash the decisions of the IHA dated and to reconvene a fresh IHA as per law.

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