Delhi HC seeks JNU’s stand on plea challenging hostel manual amendment

The Delhi High Court on Friday said Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students, who have not yet registered for the new academic year, may do so under the old hostel manual as it sought the response of the university's administration on the plea of JNU Students' Union challenging the decision to amend the hostel manual, reports Firstpost.

A bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher also issued notices to Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and UGC which were also pleaded in the matter. The plea, filed by JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh and other office bearers Saket Moon, Satish Chandra Yadav and Danish, challenged the minutes of the Inter Hostel Administration issued on 28 October 2019, jurisdiction of the High Level Committee constituted on 24 November and recommendations made by it. 

 Delhi HC seeks JNUs stand on plea challenging decision to amend hostel manual, asks students to register under old rules for new academic yearFile image of the Delhi High Court. PTI 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 are 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 has also brought amendments to clauses of the Hostel Manual adversely affecting reserved category students in the university," the plea had submitted. Earlier, the rent was Rs 10 and Rs 20 for double and single-occupancy rooms respectively.

The 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 has been hiked 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 will 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 per cent every academic year.

Contending that hike in the hostel fees would directly 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.

The Executive Council of JNU showed total "non-application of mind", the application said.

"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 categorization 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," it said.

The students body had said that JNUSU is a necessary invitee member of various committees set up under the JNU Act, 1966 and its representatives were entitled to be a part of the IHA Committee meeting to discuss the Draft Hostel Manual.

"JNUSU wrote a letter dated 27 December, 2019 to JNU Vice Chancellor to take cognizance of the situation and initiating dialogue. The Petitioners reiterated the directions of this Court and requested that a dialogue be started between the JNUSU and the VC/JNU administration regarding the Draft Hostel Manual. However, no response was forthcoming from the VC or the administration," it said.