Press Trust of India|Oct 8, 2023
University’s ordinance can’t override student’s right to education: High Court
The court made the observations while hearing a plea by two students studying in different colleges affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
NEW DELHI: An ordinance meant for self-regulation of universities cannot override a student’s right to education and the right to live a life of human dignity, the Delhi High Court has observed. The court said it is incumbent upon educational institutions to make necessary allowances to ensure that students, who are disadvantaged due to medical reasons, are also provided quality education.
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The court made the observations while hearing a plea by two students studying in different colleges affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) seeking interchange of institutions on medical ground. One of the two students said she is pursing BBA course from Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology which is more than 30 kilometres away from her residence and she suffers from allergic rhinitis, which is associated with a group of symptoms affecting the nose, and also to dust, animal dander or pollen.
The plea said these symptoms occur when one breathes in something they are allergic to and sought migration from one institute to another. To facilitate her shifting, the other petitioner student, who studies in Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, agreed to an interchange and they both applied to the university for it. They were aggrieved by a notification issued by the university on July 13 last year whereby Ordinance 7, which is related to migration of students, was amended and a complete ban was imposed with respect to intra and inter university migration. Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said prima facie, a complete ban on migration was put in place on account of the recommendations of university’s expert committee which did not seem to be arbitrary or illegal.
The court, however, said the competent authority cannot be oblivious to the ground realities which may arise and this appears to be a case where a more pragmatic approach needs to be adopted instead of being rigid to the general rule. “The universities endowed with statutory discretion may legitimately adopt general rules or principles to guide itself as to the manner of exercising its own discretion in extraordinary circumstances. The universities should not be rigid while taking decisions in the cases where cogent reasons are given by the students for seeking migration,” it said.
The high court said students deserve quality higher education, and being devoid of that due to medical ailments beyond their control, will tantamount to doing “disservice to the future of this country”. “It is incumbent upon educational institutions to make the necessary allowances to ensure that students, who are disadvantaged due to medical reasons, are also provided quality education. Therefore, the Ordinance of the universities for self-regulation cannot override a student’s right to education and the right to live a life with human dignity,” the court said.
It said the universities should consider extraordinary circumstances of the students and their application if there exist valid and justifiable reasons. Else, the exercise of discretionary power would stand vitiated for unreasonableness and arbitrariness, the court said. The court directed the vice chancellor of GGSIPU to make a decision within six weeks and disposed of the plea. If the vice chancellor comes to a conclusion that the grievance of both the petitioners was genuine and their request was acceptable, the same be accepted without being influenced by last year’s notification, it said.
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