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Delhi High Court Upholds Student Rights Over University Ordinances

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Published on: 26 September 2023 at 12:40 IST

In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court has emphasized that university ordinances for self-regulation should not infringe upon a student’s fundamental rights to education and human dignity.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav made this observation while hearing a case involving two students seeking inter-college migration within colleges affiliated with Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

One of the students pursuing a BBA degree at Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology sought the transfer on the grounds that her college was more than 30 kilometers away from her residence, and she suffered from allergies triggered by dust, animal dander, or pollen. The other student, studying at Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, agreed to the interchange to accommodate the former.

Their grievance stemmed from a notification issued by the university in July of the previous year, amending Ordinance 7, which governed student migration. The amendment imposed a complete ban on intra and inter-university migration.

Justice Kaurav acknowledged that the ban on migration appeared to be based on recommendations from the university’s expert committee and did not seem arbitrary or illegal on its face. However, he noted that exceptions should be made, particularly in cases of medical emergencies, and that a more flexible approach should be adopted.

The court stressed that universities, with their statutory discretion, could establish general rules and principles for guidance in extraordinary circumstances.

It emphasized that universities should not be inflexible when students provide compelling reasons for seeking migration.

Furthermore, the court asserted that students have the right to quality higher education and that depriving them of this right due to medical conditions beyond their control would be detrimental to the country’s future. It emphasized that university ordinances for self-regulation should not override a student’s right to education and human dignity.

The court called upon universities to consider the extraordinary circumstances of students and evaluate their applications with fairness and reasonableness. It cautioned that the exercise of discretionary power should not be marred by unreasonableness or arbitrariness.

Justice Kaurav directed the Vice Chancellor of GGSIPU to render a decision within six weeks.

The court advised that the Vice Chancellor should base the decision on the merits of the students’ grievances, independent of the previous year’s notification.