Delh HC asks JNU to provide hostel accommodation to visually impaired student

The HC directed JNU to provide free hostel accommodation to visually impaired student challenging his eviction due to rules against second postgraduate courses.

Jawaharlal Nehru University file photo. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)Jawaharlal Nehru University file photo. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Press Trust of India | February 26, 2024 | 08:58 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the JNU to provide hostel accommodation free of cost to a visually impaired student, who was evicted from the hostel, along with other entitlements to which a differently abled student is entitled to under the law and the policies of the varsity till completion of his master’s degree.

Justice C Hari Shankar directed the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to provide all the facilities to the student within a week from the pronouncement of this judgement. The high court allowed a petition by 49-year-old Sanjeev Kumar Mishra challenging his eviction from the hostel on the ground that the applicable rules do not permit hostel accommodation to a student pursuing a second postgraduate course.

“The petitioner is, therefore, entitled, as of right, to hostel accommodation, provided by the JNU within its campus, free of cost, with all other entitlements to which a differently abled student is entitled under the law and the policies of the JNU, till completion of his masters degree course in Sociology,” the high court said.

The high court said it was truly ironic that the JNU was seeking to defend its case by relying on the fact that the petitioner – a 100 per cent visually challenged student – has provided a residential address 21 km away from the JNU campus. “The submission deserves no further comment”, it said.

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It added that no empirical data, whatsoever, has been provided by the JNU to indicate that it would be unreasonable to expect the JNU to provide hostel accommodation to the petitioner. “A student who is pursuing a second master’s degree course with the JNU, having already pursued and completed one, is as entitled to a place to stay as a student who is joining the JNU for the first time,” the court said.

Advocate Rahul Bajaj, representing the petitioner, submitted this rule cannot be applied in all cases while being unmindful of the physical disabilities that individual students may suffer from.

JNU’s counsel submitted that denial of hostel accommodation to the petitioner, consequent to his enrolment in the second master’s degree course, was strictly in accordance with the JNU Hostel Manual, which excluded students who had completed their qualifying examinations from places outside Delhi and were not residents thereof from entitlement to hostel accommodation, if they already had a degree or were pursuing studies in the JNU at the same level with hostel accommodation.

The counsel said this exception applied to the petitioner and, therefore, he was not entitled to seek hostel accommodation.

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