Madras High Court Directs Government to Consider SOEL Students’ Plea Against Levying of Fee for Unused Facilities

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Madras High Court on 30th September 2020 directed the State Government to consider a representation made by students of the School of Excellence in Law (SOEL) against the levy of fees for college facilities not in use amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facts of the Case

The present writ petition has been filed challenging the circular issued by the respondent directing the petitioners to pay the semester fees in two instalments. The petitioners are students who are undergoing a law course at the 5th respondent University. The petitioners are only questioning the fee that is charged under ten more heads other than that of tuition fees on the ground that they are not utilizing the facilities of these ten more heads and therefore, they should not be made to pay the fees under these heads, more particularly, considering the financial constraints faced due to the pandemic situation.

Arguments of the Respondents

The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents submitted that the University had taken into consideration the financial constraints faced by the students and that is the reason why the students were asked to pay the fees in two instalments. It was further submitted by the counsel that the fee waiver is a policy decision of the Government of Tamil Nadu and the University cannot take any unilateral decision in this regard.

Court’s Observation

While passing the interim order on Wednesday, Justice Anand Venkatesh observed,

“This Court is aware of the fact that there is a very limited jurisdiction vested with this Court when it comes to fixation of fees. The fee is fixed after taking into consideration a lot of factors and this Court is not an expert to sit over in judgments and re-determine the fees. Any such exercise will amount to overstretching the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The matter has to be placed before the Government and any decision taken by the Government in this regard will ultimately bind the University.”

Court’s Order

The interim directions issued were that the petitioner-students are directed to pay the first instalment of the Tuition fees and AIR Cafe Fees, as fixed in the circular dated August 29 on or before October 12. Further, TNDALU is directed to place the request received from the students along with the resolution passed by the Syndicate on September 12 before the State Government within a week. The State Government shall consider the request made by the students and the resolution passed by the Syndicate and pass necessary orders within two weeks thereafter. Further, the order passed by the State Government is to be placed in the Syndicate following which a resolution shall be passed, and the same shall be informed by the University to the students. TNDALU and SOEL were ordered by the Court to file the counter affidavit before the next date of hearing.


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