As many as 78 students of Dharmashastra National Law University (DNLU) in Jabalpur have moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking permission to re-examine without paying remedial classes and to waive the fee imposed by the university for these conferences. .
The writ petition was filed on August 16 and has been listed in the Madhya Pradesh HC. It is yet to be heard.
The students of different batches mentioned in their petition the university administration published three lists with the names of 120 of them and restricted them from participating in the final examination of the previous semester, which was already being held.
The DNLU held the final exams of the previous semester from June 24 to the end of July.
The administration also announced that it will conduct remedial classes for these students and they will have to pay a fee of Rs 7,500 per subject, as per the students’ request. He added that remedial classes were made mandatory so that they could sit for the new exam.
The petition said that the fee fixed by the university for remedial classes is arbitrary and retroactive in nature without any prior provision and violates Article 14 of the Constitution. He also argued that the Supreme Court has already set a precedent that while universities can decide their own fees, arbitrary fixing of fees should be avoided.
The writ petition also mentions that the university first accepted the medical certificates of students who had poor attendance, but then arbitrarily and suspiciously rejected these documents after the commencement of the final examination.
The students have also alleged that the university conducted far fewer classes than the 60 classes per semester mandated by the Bar Council of India.
A DLNU official has denied all these charges.
Protest on campus
Students also staged a protest on Wednesday, the first day of the new academic session, against the authorities for barring students from appearing for the exam and imposing an exorbitant fee for remedial classes.
The students said Vice Chancellor V Nagaraj agreed to hold a town hall on their demands after the Jabalpur police came to the campus on Wednesday and tried to negotiate with them. “The council was not helpful at all. The VC kept trying to justify the university’s actions and said some things happened without their knowledge,” Aditya B. Puri, a fifth-year student, told The Indian Express.
“But we want the VC to resign on multiple grounds. We are continuing our protest till this demand is met,” Puri added.
Shaileshwar Yadav, a fifth-grader who was not allowed to take the subject exam, told The Indian Express that the list came just two days before the exam.
“Many students had medical problems that prevented them from attending classes. Until now, we could submit a medical certificate and ask for a new scan. But the administrator made a new rule that even with medical problems, students will have to have at least 65 per cent attendance to appear in the exams,” Yadav said.
Earlier, Yadav said, they were allowed to sit for exams and were allowed to attend remedial classes which were free. They were also allowed to appear for the re-examination after paying Rs 300, he added. “Now, we have found that the university has decided to take Rs 7,500 per subject as fees for remedial classes. So, if a student was barred from appearing in all the exams, he would have to pay more than Rs 40,000 just for a month of remedial classes and re-examination,” Yadav said.
Another fifth-grader, Neelesh Kumar, from Alwar in Rajasthan, said he was not allowed to appear for the exams even though his kidneys failed and he was in hospital.
“Our semester started in March. I suffered kidney failure in February and was hospitalized for a month. He had come to the campus only one day in April. I then asked some admin members whether I should attend classes or not. They told me that since I have a valid reason and a serious illness, I can attach my medical certificates and my absence will be canceled and I will be able to appear in the end-of-semester exam,” said Kumar .
Kumar said he returned home because he had not fully recovered. He decided to skip mid-semester exams and all classes after receiving verbal assurance from university officials that he will be allowed to appear for final exams. In June, when the end-of-semester exams began, he was allowed to sit two subjects.
“In the middle of the exam calendar, another list of students with less attendance was released and I was told that I could no longer appear for the exams. I asked why I was allowed to attend two exams. The administration said it was a mistake and that these two exams would not count as I did not have the required attendance,” he said.
“VC wanted to help students”
After the students submitted the written petition, the university announced that the make-up class fees will be reduced to Rs 5,000.
talking with The Indian Express, DNLU in-charge registrar Jalej Goantiya said that as per university norms, students with less than 70 percent attendance are not allowed to appear in the exams. Even if students submit their medical certificates, they should still have 65 percent attendance, he added. “In fact, this year our vice chancellor made an exception for everyone, and 70 percent of the required attendance was waived, and it was 65 percent for everyone, including those with medical issues,” he said Goantia.
Talking about the levy of fees for remedial classes, Goantiya said, “We were counting on administrative expenses for remedial classes and re-examination. Teachers will have to collect their salary for the classes. Re-examination will require setting papers of questions, their impressions, organize answer sheets, etc., he said.
Goantiya said the remedial classes were a unique provision for this year and should not be taken as a precedent. “Students who could not sit the exam in the previous semester would have lost a whole year. The VC wanted to help them and give them a chance to save a year, and that’s why they are having make-up classes” , added.
Goantiya said that since the students have filed a writ petition and the matter is now sub judice, there is no point in the students’ protest as the university will do whatever the court decides. “They should attend classes and not disturb other students and faculty,” Goantiya said.
The students, however, are adamant about protesting and boycotting classes. “They always keep arguing that we are a new university and therefore there are difficulties. But we have realized that unless the current VC steps down, we may not see any improvement in our administration,” said Puri.