Meet the RGNUL student who fought his college’s fee policy during Covid-19

A Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Punjab alumnus fought for students and patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kashyap also wrote to the Chief Justices of state high courts to allow live-streaming of proceedings.Kashyap also wrote to the Chief Justices of state high courts to allow live-streaming of proceedings.

Sheena Sachdeva | January 16, 2023 | 12:27 PM IST

NEW DELHI: In 2020, Aditya Kashyap, then a student of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL) Punjab sued his college in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The Covid-19 pandemic had just begun its first sweep through the country and to control its spread, the union government ordered a lockdown. RGNUL, like all other institutions, closed and asked students to go home.

“We had to leave our campuses in no time and the college administration asked us to lock our rooms and leave hostels,” he said. There were no physical classes for a full year during which many students lost their parents or had family members losing sources of livelihood. “Despite being a state university, they charged us full fees, including hostel, campus development fund, internet, gym facilities and others of Rs. 2.5 lakh,” he said. The case ran for over a year-and-a-half leading to reimbursement of 50% of the hostel fee.

That wasn’t the only court case originating during the pandemic he was involved in. He filed letter petitions against the black-marketing and hoarding of medicines and oxygen cylinders during the horrific second wave of the pandemic in the summer of 2021. Upon graduating in 2021, he also wrote to the Chief Justices of state high courts to allow live-streaming of proceedings – he had developed a habit of watching them during the pandemic.

Kashyap is a member of the right-wing lawyers’ group, Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) lawyers’ wing, and works as a law clerk with a high court judge.

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Student journey

Hailing from a family of teachers and farmers, Kashyap is from Darbhanga, Bihar. He qualified the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admission in the National Law Universities (NLUs) in 2016 and took out a loan to pay for his studies.

He was mostly an introvert until he saw collagemates getting suspended on flimsy charges. In 2019, in response to the poor quality of food, Kashyap organised a protest and gathered all students around him. “We slept on the streets for four days altogether. This phase changed me. I realised that I should fight for the rights of people who are not able to represent themselves,” he stated.

However, he did file a petition against a cartoonist who had criticised on Twitter the actions of the Supreme Court in a case filed by the media personality Arnab Goswami against the Maharashtra state government, then still helmed by a coalition of the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party. The cartoonist had accused the court of partisanship in favour of the BJP, the RSS’ political arm. Kashyap, arguing the “dignity of the Supreme Court” was at risk, wrote to the Attorney General and a contempt of court case was filed which is still going on.

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Petitions and letters

Apart from the letters and petitions related to the pandemic, Kashyap also wrote to Chief Justices of almost all the high courts of the states on live-streaming of case proceedings. “During Covid, all classes were happening virtually, so I started watching the court proceedings. But most of them weren’t publicly available,” he said. For Kashyap, as a student, the case proceedings were an opportunity to learn. The Supreme Court recently agreed to live proceedings of matters before its constitutional bench.

Kashyap is currently working on issues like the admission of economically weaker section (EWS) students in Kendriya Vidyalayas and private schools. He intends to pursue litigation and argue cases pro bono.

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