Intern, Legal Angles Patna
The members of the CUSB Alumni Association (further in the article as CUSBAA), which is a Voluntary Association of Former Students of the Central University of South Bihar, Gaya wrote this Representation Letter seeking directions to be issued to the concerned authorities commanding them to revoke the order issued vide notice number CUSB/Acad/2-3/Vol-II/2016/694 & CUSB/Acad/2-3 Vol-II/2016/720 dated 10.07.2020 & 16.07.2020, seeking all the concerned students enrolled under the various Undergraduate/Postgraduate/Ph.D. Programmes to compulsorily pay the semester fee (Odd Semester July – December, 2020), according to the Annexure I & II as enclosed as well as mentioned in the aforesaid notice by 31.07.2020.
Firstly, they condemn the letter issued by the University Administration on 16.07.2020 which states that the semester fee for the odd semester (July-December, 2020) shall be paid by the students by 31.07.2020 failing to which the students won’t be allowed to attend the Online Classes.
Currently, all the educational institutions are closed due to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in India. The State of Bihar is also observing lockdown. Most of the educational institutions including the Central University of South Bihar have adopted the Online Classes methodology for the upcoming odd semester (July-December, 2020).
On 10.07.2020, a notice vide Ref. No. - CUSB/Acad/2-3/Vol-II/2016/694 has been issued to the students of the CUSB in which it is mentioned that the all the students enrolled in various Undergraduate/Postgraduate/Ph.D. programmes are hereby directed to deposit the semester fee and get themselves registered in their respective programmes/courses for the odd semester July-December, 2020 by 07.08.2020, positively.
The abovementioned notice further says that a student who fails to complete the registration process latest by 07.08.2020 shall not be allowed to continue with the Online Classes.
Issues and Concerns
Afterwards, CUSBAA sent a Representation Letter vide Ref No. RL/16/2020 dated 16.07.2020 in which, they demanded to revoke the order issued in the abovementioned notice. Instead of revoking the order, the University Administration had issued another notice vide Ref. No. - CUSB/Acad/2-3/Vol-II/2016/720 dated 16.07.2020 in which it has been directed to the students that the Semester Fee for Odd Semester (July-December, 2020) shall be paid by 31.07.2020 failing to which the students will not be allowed to attend the Online Classes.
On 14.07.2020, the Government of Bihar had already announced complete lockdown in the state till 31.07.2020. Now, in such circumstances, if the students are compelled to pay the semester fee till 31.07.2020, it was seen as nothing but a barbaric, inhuman and insensitive step of the University Administration which will definitely lead to a situation where a large number of students will not be able to register and pay the semester fee.
The CUSBAA drew the attention towards the issue of inability of large numbers of students in paying the semester fee for the odd semester, i.e., July-December, 2020 due to various unforeseeable economic restraints which have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. A large number of parents of the students have lost their jobs which has substantively affected their earnings. They also pointed towards the fee which is being charged is based upon such fee categories as mentioned in fee structure of Annexure I and Annexure II, enclosed with the abovementioned notice, for which the resources/services shall not be available to the students to avail or utilize during the Online Classes. For instance, the fees being charged in the name of ‘Laboratory Fee, Econometric Lab Fee, Computer Fee, Library/Magazine/Newsletter Fee, Fee for Games/Athletics Fee, Academic/Extension Activity Fee, Addt. Professional Enrichment Fee, and Field Visit Fee, will practically be of no use for the students during the Online Classes but they will put an extra burden on the parents of the students who are enrolled in the University.
They also quoted the letter issued by the, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) vide Ref. No.- D.O. No. F.1-1/2020/UGC(TF-COVID-19/Fee) dated 27.05.2020 to the Vice Chancellors of all the Universities wherein it has been mentioned that,
“…It is requested, that in view of the prevailing extraordinary difficult circumstances, universities and colleges may consider the matter regarding payment of annual/semester fee, tuition fee, examination fee, etc. sympathetically and if feasible, may consider offering alternative payment options to students till the situation returns to normal. If need be, the universities and colleges may also consider individual requests from student received if any, concerning payment of fee, in a considerate manner, keeping in view the present COVID-I9 Pandemic.”
The problems they stated were that, most of the students from the University belong to the state of Bihar which is relatively a poor state and the students who are not able to pay the fee in the current situation of pandemic COVID-19 owing to their poor and vulnerable economic conditions may have to drop their studies in middle of the course as the impugned notice says that such students who won’t register by 31.07.2020 will not be allowed to attend the Online Classes. There is also an apprehension that this dropout rate will be higher amongst the Girl Students.
Quoting the Section 5 of the Central Universities Act, 2009, the objective of the university shall be:
“... to disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit; to make special provision for integrated courses in humanities, social sciences, science and technology in its educational programmes; to take appropriate measures for promoting innovations in teaching-learning process and interdisciplinary studies and research; to educate and train manpower for the development of the country; to establish linkages with industries for the promotion of science and technology; and to pay special attention to the improvement of the social and economic conditions and welfare of the people, their intellectual, academic and cultural development."
Moreover, CUSBAA brought to light that, many complaints have been made in past both verbally and in written regarding the corrupt policies of the current Vidyarthi Mediclaim Insurance Company or the Third Party Agency (TPA) where the students were not able avail the insurance despite paying the sum to the university for the same.
Hence, in the light of the above-mentioned concerns, they humbly requested to consider their grievances and to take appropriate steps in this urgent situation and issue a set of directions to the concerned authorities, and also giving some suggestive steps :
I. To direct the concerned authority to revoke the order issued vide notice number CUSB/Acad/2-3/Vol-II/2016/720 dated 16.07.2020, seeking all the concerned students enrolled under the various Undergraduate/Postgraduate/Ph.D. Programmes to compulsorily pay the semester fee (Odd Semester July – December, 2020), according to the Annexure I & II as enclosed as well as mentioned in the aforesaid notice by 31.07.2020.
II. To direct the concerned authorities to not to compel the students to pay the fees for the upcoming odd semester, i.e., July-December, 2020, and not to bar any of the student from attending the Online Classes who is not capable of paying the said fees.
III. To direct the concerned authorities to revise and issue the new the Fee Structure for the upcoming odd semester of July-December, 2020, of both the categories of students, including Students enrolled before Academic Year 2018-19 and Students enrolled after Academic Year 2018-19, after waiving off the fees being charged absurdly in the name of the Laboratory Fee, Econometric Lab Fee, Computer Fee, Library/Magazine/Newsletter Fee, Games/Athletics Fee, Academic/Extension Activity Fee, Addt. Professional Enrichment Fee, Field Visit Fee, out of the total fees being charged for the upcoming odd semester of July-December, 2020, as enclosed in the Annexure I and II of the same notice.
IV. To direct the concerned authorities to remove the current Insurance Company or the Third Party Agency (TPA) of the Vidyarthi Mediclaim Policy due to its absurd policies where students are not able to avail the services of the insurance for which they have paid the insurance premium in the name of Vidyarthi Mediclaim Premium.
V. To direct the concerned authorities to revise the policies of Third Party Agency (TPA) and that of the Insurance Company for issuing the Vidyarthi Mediclaim Insurance Policies to the large numbers of students so that it must also include the claim against the Covid-19 Coronavirus infection in the same insurance policy for which students will have to pay the nominal amount of insurance premium.
VI. To direct the concerned authorities not to compulsorily charge fee for Vidyarthi Mediclaim Premium and to make this category of fees optional for the students, where students can purchase the said Insurance Policy voluntarily and on their will.
VII. To direct the concerned authorities to publish the policies of the Vidyarthi Mediclaim, the Third Party Agency (TPA), and the Insurance Company into the public domain so that every student must go through them before purchasing the said insurance policy after which they could purchase the said insurance policy as according to their will and voluntarily.
Legal Angles Patna Team tried to contact the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar of the University but they did not take the call or replied to any email.
Legal Angles Patna Team later contacted Advocate Vishal Kumar Singh of the Patna High Court and asked his views on the decision of the University. Advocate Vishal said, "...this is a case of sheer negligence on the part of CUSB Administration. How can they come up with such notifications amidst the pandemic? Who will be responsible if any of the student fails to deposit the fee in such short period? There is no meaning of charging lab, library and cultural activity fee from students when they are at their homes. Instead of the University demanding the fee, the students should demand the internet charges from the University."
Read Both the Representation Letters here: