Intern, Legal Angles Patna
In an important move today, the CUSB Alumni Association (CUSBAA) filed a PIL before the Patna High Court, praying for the relaxation of fees, which the University has demanded amidst this novel corona virus pandemic.
The Central University of South Bihar, issued a notice according to which, all the students, who are enrolled in various Undergraduate/ Postgraduate/ Ph.D. programmes to obligatorily pay the odd semester fees (July-December, 2020) by 31.07.2020. The notice also mentioned that the disobedience of the above notice, would lead the students to serious consequences, such as debarring them from attending online classes.
Considering the concerns of the students, the CUSB Alumni Association (Petitioner) sent the Representation Letter to the Vice Chancellor twice, requesting him to reconsider their demand of semester fee. Despite of that, no heed was paid to their concerns. Finally, on Monday, the Alumni Association approached the Patna High Court and filed the PIL for the grievances of the students.
The novel corona virus pandemic has put even the big economies on hold all around the globe, including India as well. As a measure to contain the outbreak, the whole world has stopped, and is under strict lockdown, as a result of which, millions across the globe have lost their job, and are currently under financial constraints. It is no surprise, that, even in India numerous are under financial loss at present. In north-eastern states like Bihar, half the populace of the state comes under Below Poverty Line (BPL), which makes it paradoxical for them to afford education in a private institution. Therefore, these poor families send their children to Government aided institutions like University of Patna, and Central University of South Bihar.
Educational institutions, which produce the future of the nation, should exclude themselves from becoming profit making entities, especially those which are owned by the government themselves. If such government institutions are doing gratuitous act, then what can we expect from private institutions ? These institutions are demanding fees other than tuition fees, in the name of lab fee, econometric fee, etc., this is nothing, but, simply injustice being done to the unprivileged student body who cannot afford the fees, amid this pandemic. There are many students, whose parents have lost their job, and are on economic constraints, and also under several debts. Also, there are many parents living in remote areas of Bihar, who are financial not stable, despite their economic instability they have sent their children to study at these government institutions, so that they are able build a better tomorrow.
At this devastating time amid a pandemic, the educational institutions should not consider their own profit, instead they should consider the situations of their students, who are suffering, both financially and mentally. Let us not forget that, educational institutions run because of the students and their teachers, and not the administration alone. Therefore, the students and the teachers should be the first priority of the administration, and they should consider their situations, and problems first.
This is a heinous act to demand the academic fees, other than the tuition fees, for services such as lab fees, econometric fees, library fees, etc., even when the students are not utilising them, is simply wrong, and unjust. If the University administration stays adamant on their decision, then many students who cannot afford the fees, will have to leave their studies in between, because one of the conditions put up by the University is that, if students don’t pay the fees, they will not be allowed to continue their studies. The decision is more problematic for the girl students, who are in general not given proper education.
Mr. Vishal Kumar Singh, Advocate for the Petitioner said that though the letters were not replied or action was not taken by the University Administration, they must have been aware of the concerns of the students amid the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Demanding of fee at such a time will be nothing but a burden. Moreover, the fee includes the fee for services like Lab, Library and Sports etc which shall not be utilized by the students. We also apprehend that the dropout rate of girls will be more in a state like Bihar if the demand of fee is not taken back immediately.