Uttarakhand: Despite High Court Order, Private Ayurvedic Colleges Continue With 170% Fee Hike
Students from various medical colleges in Uttarakhand have been staging protests at the Parade Grounds in Dehradun for over 40 days. From marches across the city to hunger strikes and clashes with police, the students have stood their ground and opposed the 170% fee hike in private Ayurvedic medical colleges.
The High Court of Uttarakhand had ruled last year that the fee hike order be reversed and the amount already paid by students be refunded. However, the orders of the court have not been implemented yet.
The Uttarakhand government hiked the fees of private Ayurvedic medical colleges in the state in October 2015. The tuition fees for a Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) in 13 private colleges in the state had been increased from Rs 80,000 a year to Rs 2,15,000 a year.
The colleges then started demanding the enhanced fee from the students. After the 2015 government order, a third-year student would be forced to pay the enhanced fee for the past two years if he/she wished to attend classes.
After the order, several students had approached the Uttarakhand High Court, arguing that the requisite process was not followed while enhancing the fees. Their lawyers argued that as per the Uttarakhand Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fee) Act, a committee including a retired high court judge needs to deliberate and decide on the fee hikes in private colleges.
However, that process, the petition said, was not followed by the Uttarakhand state government.
The Uttarakhand high court in July 2017, ordered a stay on fee hike. A year later, on July 9, 2018, the high court ‘quashed’ the order of the Uttarakhand government which favoured the fee hike.
The government and universities have the freedom to increase fees. But any hike must be based on the recommendations of the fee regulatory committee and should only be prospective and not retrospective.
The court also said that if private colleges had already collected the enhanced fee from students, the money should be refunded within two weeks. The colleges challenged this order, but the High Court bench maintained the earlier decision in October 2018.
“The colleges have not refunded a single rupee till now. They continue to demand the enhanced fee from students and bar them from sitting for exams if it is not paid,” Lalit Tewari, a BAMS student and one of the petitioners told The Wire.
“And since the colleges are owned by people like Baba Ramdev, Union minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and Uttarakhand cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat, the state government is not keen to act,” Tewari added.
The students have been demanding that the private colleges abide by the orders of the high court, and refund the enhanced fee that had been paid. Fee hike has been an issue across the country in several universities, including IIT, TISS Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru University.