SGRRIMS Uttarakhand: HC hearing on fee hike likely to be heard on March 21

In the previous hearing, the counsel appearing for the petitioners had lobbied for a hearing under Article 226
Strike against fee hike at SGRRIMS, Uttarakhand | (Pic: Sourced)
Strike against fee hike at SGRRIMS, Uttarakhand | (Pic: Sourced)

The case related to the fee hike in Uttarakhand's Shri Guru Ram Rai Institute of Medical and Health Sciences (SGRRIMS), which was supposed to be heard in the High Court today, March 20, is now slated to be heard tomorrow. It has been decided, that the case will be heard under Article 227.

In the previous hearing, the counsel appearing for the petitioners had lobbied for a hearing under Article 226, which confers authority upon the High Courts to issue directions, orders, and writs to any individual or entity, including the government. Article 227, on the other hand, empowers High Courts to exercise supervision over all courts and tribunals within the geographical boundaries of their jurisdiction.

Since the court decided on Article 227, students say that they are slightly disappointed, but are hoping for a positive verdict. Nonetheless, with the delay in the hearing, the final-year students at the college are facing a difficult time.

Dr DD Choudhury, a member of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), who is concerned with the case, explains "The judge was on leave today; therefore the matter could not be heard. It will be heard tomorrow."

Students say unless the court verdict is delivered, the administration has refused to start the classes for 37 final-year students who were detained this year, primarily due to lack of attendance. "As per the schedule by the National Medical Commission (NMC), the classes should start by now. But when students approached the administration regarding this, the members said a decision will be taken only after the court verdict," said a family member of an affected student, on the condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, the non-detained final-year students are awaiting the commencement of their internship. For this too, SGRRIMS is awaiting the court verdict, and until students pay the required fee. The college hiked the fee to Rs 26 lakh for State Quota students and to Rs 37 lakh for those who obtained admission through All India Quota (AIQ).

Apart from protesting against this hike, students have been demanding, since the publication of their final-year results on March 6, that their internships be started, as a delay would only make them ineligible to appear for NEET PG in 2024. "Monetary matters should not be clubbed with academics. Students might lose a year this way," the family member said.

In addition, the detained final-year students are being asked to shell out extra money for their classes. The college has required them to pay Rs 1,500 per theory and Rs 3,000 per practical class. "The fees are being asked for orally and nothing is given in writing," said a source.

A flashback
The final-year students at SGRRIMS held protests against the fee hike, during which outsiders, who the students referred to as "administration's goons," allegedly destroyed their tents and manhandled them, resulting in injuries. This was on March 14. The strike was then temporarily suspended after IMA's intervention.

The matter thus reached the High Court. It was even raised in the Legislative Assembly by Opposition MLA from BSP Mohammad Shahzad on March 16. In a video of the proceedings shared by him on Facebook, he is seen questioning the fee hike and reflecting on the strike. In reply, Dhan Singh Rawat, Minister of Higher Education and Healthcare, said that a committee was set to fix the fee in private colleges and the current fee was decided by it.

The latter further explains in the clip that the final-year students, who belong to the 2018-19 batch, were admitted after they signed an affidavit agreeing to pay the fee fixed by the committee. However, the concerned student's family member points out anomalies in the statement. 

He informs the fee hike was fixed for 3 batches from 2019-2022. But the college extended it for the 2018 batch as well. Next, the hike was also unevenly decided. It was Rs 5 lakh in 2017, and then made Rs 13.22 lakh in 2019 for AIQ students.

The fee amount will now be deliberated upon in court. "But the students want our internships and the classes to begin. They have told the administration that we are ready to abide by the court's judgment, but it is not ready to listen," the family member said.

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