The Delhi High Court refused to consider a petition which sought University of Delhi to take responsibility for providing all regular college students with hostel accommodation on Wednesday.

The High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar gave unanimous decision on the aforementioned matter, and also said that the varsity was not under any statutory obligation to provide hostel accommodation to all students.

The petitioner Parveen Kumar Singh invoked section 33 of the Delhi University Act of 1922, which states that every student of the University shall reside in the College Hall or under such circumstances as prescribed by the Ordinances. This plea furthered that the regular students who were unable to secure a hostel seat should get a monthly stipend of INR 10,000.

The court was of the view that this interpretation of the section 33 was not economically viable as it would cost the University crores of rupees.

The petition which is filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra further stated that of the 1,84,668 students enrolled in DU as per an RTI reply, only 6,235 or 3.37% have hostel accommodation.

Accomodation crunch in the University has been an issue for a long time. Due to lack of subsidised accomodation facilities, students have to give in to privatised facilities. The students who do not get the hostel accommodation are exploited by the landlords and property dealers who charge excessive amounts of money for accommodation.

The previously mentioned plea also sought to declare the area in and around the 5-kilometres radius of Delhi University’s South and North Campus as a “Special Students Zone”. It was suggested that this zone should have a fixed minimum rent for the accommodations.

The same plea also sought to end the inequal rates of departmental canteen food for staff members and canteen food for students. It stated that the prices of both should be harmonised, and operate on a break-even basis.  

On this matter, court pointed out that it is not incumbent upon the present judicial body to regulate prices in the University canteen. It is a policy issue that has to be looked at by the competent authority itself.

Advocate Mishra said that he would now move the higher court against the decision of High Court.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat archives.

Antriksha Pathania
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In a move to include OBC candidates into the hostel facility, the governing body has decided to make the college’s hostel an all first-year accommodation.

The governing body of Lady Shri Ram College (LSR)  has decided to convert their college hostel into an all first-year students’ hostel. This decision has been taken after several demands were made by the student union for reservations to OBC students in the college hostel space. It seems that implementing this decision comes at the cost of removing all the second and third years from the hostel facility.  The decision has been justified by the governing body as a step taken due to the lack of enough rooms.

This reservation policy comes at a heavy cost for the students. The reservation would mean that every other student, who is not a first-year, loses the eligibility to apply for the college’s hostel.

In a statement released by the Student Union, this action has been condemned by referring to it as “absurd” and “a calculated attempt to polarise the student body sentiment along already existing fissures in the society.”

While the student body welcomed the administration’s attempts to promote inclusivity by implementing constitutional reservation—that is, providing 27% hostel seats for OBC candidates. It is a move made after several protests. The union responded by stating that the way it is being implemented needs to be spoken against and criticised.

This decision forces the first-year students to look for accommodation facilities outside the college premises. That is, to seek refuge in flats and PGs once they finish their first-year at LSR. It would happen irrespective of their reservation and economic or social standing. This move is not only an economic burden on the students, but also forces them to be subjected to harassment, discrimination, and moral policing at the hands of PG owners and landlords. The housing economy makes students vulnerable, with little bargaining power at their disposal. Shelter being a primal need, students are often coerced to accept the terms of the owners, be it paying a high rent for a small room or accepting being monitored and controlled.

“South Delhi is a very expensive area, especially the locations near colleges. It’s not a feasible option for many of us. This move would lead to the college becoming an elite space, that is simply destroying class inclusivity,” a member of the hostel union said.

Further, this move affects all students, whether they belong to the SC, ST or OBC community. Reportedly, the decision includes “chances” of exemptions for PwD students. Many of the students cannot afford other housing facilities as the college hostel is the most affordable option for them.

This move would also mean that there would not be any Hostel Union from the successive academic sessions as the first-years would have to be removed annually; further curbing any voice that the Hostel Union holds. “This is an absolute form of harassment that the Governing body has decided to engage in,  under the disguise of inclusivity,” the statement by the Union pointed out.

This move would not affect the second and third years in the hostel as of now, but from the next semester. Only first-years would be eligible to apply for the hostel from the next academic session. This would mean that the first years would have to evacuate as they get promoted. The same set of students who are provided with this so-called privilege in one year, are then left to fend for their own, in the immense instability where they are forced to begin the hunt for shelter from scratch. “The students would thus be walking into a huge economic crisis. Parents in the coming years would be compelled to not send their children here. This step is a violation of the right to education itself,” a Student Union member, who did not wish to be named, stated.

This decision has been questioned for a length of time now. The Union had in many instances, written letters against the same to both the principal and the warden.  However, no response was received from the authorities. The Union also went to meet the college principal in person. The principal was not present in the college during office timings. The union has been constantly trying to  convey their disregard. “We have also been trying to gather the faculty’s support,” a Union member said.

The college has been under scrutiny for a long time with its inability to construct more hostels in the campus to accommodate students. The Union reminded the administration that providing shelter to the students was the utmost responsibility of the governing body, and that this facility cannot be served to the students as a privilege. According to the University of Delhi Act, “All colleges are to have hostel spaces for all their students, exempting those acquiring distant education.” (1922, section 33). The college is clearly violating this act. “The college is justifying this by stating that the hostel comes under a Trust. There is no transparency, nor legal documents that back their claim,” the Union member added.

“The admin wishes students to become mere customers; enjoy the hostel services for a year and then get out, go figure the money to be able to afford the ‘magic of LSR’,” the statement pointed out.

The atmosphere certainly is tense between the students and the administration. The Student Union hopes to be able to make negotiations in the coming days before the semester begins.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat archives.

Stephen Mathew

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Due to a hostel crunch (only about 10 campus colleges have hostel facilities), most students are forced to reside in private hostels and paying guest accomodations. This has made places near the campus like Hudson Line, Vijay Nagar, Kamla Nagar and Mukherjee Nagar in North Delhi, and Satya Niketan, Amar Colony and East of Kailash in South Delhi very popular for out-station students.

However, the high rates cause problems for students as many come from outside Delhi and relatively humble backgrounds. Some students’ organisations have been fighting for a standardised rent agreement for the past three years. As of now, there is no fixed slab and owners increase prices as they please.

The NCR kids cannot escape the heat either. The college and university hostels do not accommodate students who are National Capital Region (NCR) residents. This limits their chances at these hostels, which are more economical. They need to look for private accommodation, as travelling from home everyday will be difficult. While at the time of admission, PG owners are abound with promises, how far are these promises kept at the end of the semester?

Students who stay in these PGs say the facilities aren’t as nice in reality. Most have to pay over Rs 12,000 for a very small room. The bathroom has just enough space for them to stand. Even the WiFi is mostly useless because so many people use it. Even when the proprietors might give away the rooms for below 10kit is important not to get deceived by it as the rates are mostly not inclusive of food, internet, electricity or AC charges (something which the proprietors do not mention voluntarily at the time of booking of the book for fear of losing their prospective tenant). Interestingly, at the beginning of he academic year, the paying guest accommodations try to woo students with a host of modern facilities and comfort living (as one PG owner of BD Estate claimed “One fruit everyday”). But those facilities surprisingly either never materialised or fazed out by September (the same PG would give one banana only once a week).

Electricity bill remains a bone of contention between students and landlords in most of the PGs where the rent is not inclusive of electricity charges. Some PGs charge Rs.8 to Rs.10 per unit of electricity over and above the monthly rent, while the government charges Rs.7 to Rs. 8 per unit. Sometimes the proprietors go to the extent of charging even for the electricity used in the mess or the common corridors. While the electricty rates are generally supposed to come within Rs. 1000 (even as per the enhanced standard rates of the PGs), most of the students find their PG owners adding impractical figures on the rent slip every month. And the figures only increase evry successive month.

Often the curfew time at the boys’ PG is10pm to 12 midnight, while a girls’ PG would usully set the curfew at 8pm. When asked about the reasons behind this differention, PG proprietors woul explain that the restrictions are more from the parents’ side and that it is not something that they imposed. If the parents tell them that they are comfortable with their daughter returning late, they apparently wouldn’t have a problem.

While the PG owners, in order to satiate parents anxious of their wards’ wellbeing, would initially drive home the idea that they would shut the gates at 8pm “sharp”, in reality, the PGs are more liberal than that, often stretching the deadline till 8:30 or even 9. As Shristi, a student of Ramjas claimed, “the dealine gets stretched with each passing month”, although this is an instance which would be hard to generalise for all PGs.

While the exploitative PGs go on minting money, it is important to serve the wake-up call to the UGC to remind it to ensure adequate accommodation for all students in college hostels. Because while education is hard, the exigencies of staying in Delhi are harder.


Feature Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak

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