New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has declined a petition filed by fourth-year students of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) against fee hike which they dubbed “arbitrary” and “irrational”.
“There are no grounds to warrant any interference by this court. There is no merit in the present petition and the same is dismissed,” said Justice Jayant Nath.
Advocate Abhik Chimni, appearing for the petitioners, urged that the system of effecting fees hikes was completely erroneous and with no transparency.
Chimni argued that it was not clear as to whether the procedure laid down under Clause 5(1) of the NIFT Academic Programmes Ordinances 2012 had been complied with by the NIFT after obtaining the approval of the Board on the recommendations of the Senate or instructions of the central government etc.
The counsel further urged that the fees hike for NRI quota students was excessive and now they have to pay more than Rs 9 lakh annually.
However, after going through the circular, the bench noted that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the institution had reduced the fee hike for non-NRI students by 5%.
“… fees hike for non-NRI quota students was reduced by 5% for the July-December 2020 semester and also for January-June 2021 semester, keeping in view the present Covid-19 pandemic,” the court noted.
“In my opinion, the plea raised by the petitioners for challenging the fees hike is vague. Bald unsubstantiated pleas are sought to be raised that Clause 5(1) of the Ordinance has not been followed. This plea cannot be accepted. The fee hike cannot be termed arbitrary or oppressive,” the court observed.
The NIFT students had challenged the circular issued by the institution, containing the fee structure for academic year 2020-21.
“… this fee-structure incorporated a fee-hike of 10% despite the current COVID-19 pandemic situation and its effect on the financial stability of the citizens of the country,” the plea contended.
The petitioner said that students protested against this fee hike. “As a result, the respondent institute issued another circular dated August 28, 2020, revising the fee structure for academic year 2020-21. However, to the shock of the students, including the petitioners, this revised fee structure merely reduced the fee hike from 10% to 5% for non-NRI students. This decision was made by the Board of Governors in its 49th meeting,” the petition said.