Published: 04th June 2020
Deemed to be universities cannot levy excess fee that's not mentioned in the prospectus, rules Kerala High Court
The court was hearing a writ petition filed by 51 PhD scholars of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram
In what can be called a historic judgment, the Kerala High Court on May 26 ruled that deemed to be universities cannot levy excess fees on students, other than the amount mention in their admission prospectus. The court was hearing a writ petition filed by 51 students of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, against the institute introducing a semester fee in the middle of the semester. The institute was also asked to refund the excess fee collected from the students.
"There will be a direction to the 2nd respondent (UGC) to collect only such fees as are provided in the admission notifications/prospectus on the basis of which the petitioners were admitted. Any amounts paid in excess shall be refunded to the petitioner forthwith," reads the judgment by Justice Anu Sivaraman. The court also noted that the petitioners were not liable to pay any amounts, except the boarding, lodging and medical facilities as per the IIST rules and regulations.
"The institute had decided to levy fees on its PhD scholars only in 2017. Prior to that, it did not mention anything about the fees in any of the documents. At that time, it was decided to collect a tuition fee of Rs 14,500 per semester from each PhD scholar," says Rahul OR, a former student, who is one of the petitioners. "There was no discussion with the students about this. Had we accepted it, the institute would have hiked the fee again, the same way," he says.
Student-run group Your Lawyer Friend, that offer pro bono legal help to the the student community had appeared on behalf of the petitioners. In a Facebook post, Rahul wrote, "The case may not have existed, if not for YLF. I'd like to thank its members who helped us move forward with it. They also made sure that we left no stones unturned in this journey."