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Delhi High Court disposes of plea against Guru Gobind Singh Univ move on retrospective fee hike

The petition has been filed by lawyer and social activist Varun Katiyar alleging that the notification dated September 7, 2020, whereby the University has raised the fees of 21 unaided educational institutions affiliated to it, is disproportionate, arbitrary and unreasonable.

The Delhi High Court observed that “multifariousness of petitions is not permissible” while disposing of a plea challenging a notification issued by Delhi’s Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University pertaining to retrospective fee hike amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The development came after the Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was informed that a petition involving similar issues is pending before a single-judge bench. The Bench observed: “Multifariousness of petitions are not permissible. If for the very same issues involved in this writ petition, already another writ is pending, we see no reason to entertain the present writ petition.”

The Bench, thereby, disposed of the instant petition, while reserving liberty with the petitioner to move an impleadment application before the single judge in the pending writ petition.

The petition has been filed by lawyer and social activist Varun Katiyar alleging that the notification dated September 7, 2020, whereby the University has raised the fees of 21 unaided educational institutions affiliated to it, is disproportionate, arbitrary and unreasonable.

The plea states that while the entire nation is facing the financial hardship on account of the global pandemic, the University raises its fees retrospectively in a disproportionate, arbitrary and unreasonable manner.

It further states that the fees has been increased despite the fact that there neither have been any on-campus classroom sessions in any of the institutions since last one year nor have the students availed any services at these institutions, including library or conference facilities.

The plea points out that the fees has been raised despite a letter issued by the University Grant Commission on May 27, 2020, requesting the educational institutions to be sympathetic with students on payment of fees. A similar circular, to all the centres of legal education in the nation, was issued by the Bar Council of India on July 27, 2020.

The plea further points out that a representation was made by the Association of Indian Students, a voluntary student organisation run by the petitioner, before the Vice Chancellor of the University on November 4, 2020, requesting him to take appropriate action against the notification.

In light of the above, the plea seeks declaration of the notification to be illegal and thereby, null and void. In addition, the plea seeks restraining the University from taking coercive actions against students failing to pay the fees in lieu of the notification. Furthermore, the plea prays for directing the University to not charge academic fee with retrospective effect from students and refund the fee to those students who have already paid the same.

“The educational institutions are social welfare institutions whose motive is to do social welfare and not aim at making profits,” reads the plea.

The plea adds that the retrospective fee hike by the University curtails the access of students to quality education and depicts that the University is working for profit motive rather than for departing quality education.

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