TISS Hyd tussle reaches HC: Students’ petition against Uni suspending academics

Following HC orders, the petitioners have issued a personal notice to some administrators at TISS to appear in court.
TISS Hyd tussle reaches HC: Students’ petition against Uni suspending academics
TISS Hyd tussle reaches HC: Students’ petition against Uni suspending academics
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In response to a writ petition filed by students of TISS, Hyderabad against the indefinite closure of the campus, the High Court of Telangana has directed the petitioners to serve a personal notice to three of the seven respondents directly related to TISS. These three are Acting Deputy Director Prof Vindhya, Chairman of the Governing Body from the Mumbai campus S. Ramadorai, as well as the Acting Registrar MP Balamurugan at TISS Mumbai. The next hearing will be on July 22.

The group of students from TISS, Hyderabad campus had approached the High Court on Thursday, challenging a notice issued by the institute on July 15. The notice suspended academic activities in the campus sine die, meaning without a specified date for resumption. All the students were asked to vacate the campus by 5 pm on the same day. 

The petition filed by the students argued that the administration was going back on the assurance made by TISS Mumbai Director Shalini Bharath on December 20, 2018, when she had written to the students of Hyderabad campus saying, “The institute will continue to play the existing role in arranging accommodation for current batches of students with their active participation. For future batches too, similar arrangements through service providers will be made till such time the institute is able to secure its own campus, existing arrangements would continue.”

The petition also says that the action of the TISS administration violates the students’ fundamental right to education. 

As directed by the High Court, an advocate on behalf of the petitioners’ , issued a notice to the three respondents on Friday. “Complying the orders of this Hon’ble Court, this notice is served upon you to inform that you are hereby directed by this Hon’ble Court to appear either in person or through your counsel before it on Monday, i.e., 22-7-2019”, the notice reads. 

The notice announcing indefinite closure was issued as a response to many students protesting since July 8 against the new fee structure for placing a heavy financial burden on students, particularly from SC, ST and OBC communities dependent on financial aid. As a result of shifting the campus from Rajendranagar to Turkayamjal, and a new external service provider hired for hostel and dining facilities, students were being asked to pay an increased fee amount upfront. In previous years, students were allowed to pay in smaller instalments, and those students who were dependent on GoI PMS or other scholarships and financial aid were allowed to pay the fees after receiving their scholarships. 

Apart from the fee structure, students were also protesting against the alleged non-transparency in the process of awarding the contract to the service provider CN Reddy. A few students went on a hunger strike too. The agitation was mainly led by the Students Action Committee, a group formed during the December 2018 protests in the campus. Members of the SAC say that the group will function till all the promises of the Director are fulfilled

Speaking to TNM, one of the petitioners, a second-year MA student, said, “Our main concern right now is for the campus to revoke the sine die notice and resume academic activities. Ultimately, we all want to continue our education. The closure of campus has serious consequences for the students.” 

The student also said that while the problem with the exclusionary fee structure remains, but their primary goal, for now, is to get the HC to intervene against indefinite suspension of academic activities. “We want to go back to our classrooms. Of course, we want classrooms that are diverse. But for now, we want the indefinite closure revoked as soon as possible.”

The closure notice issued by the institute on July 15 said, "In spite of the various efforts made by the institute, the students continued their illegal, unlawful, unjustified activities and disturbances in spite of the repeated appeals of the Institute since July 8, 2019. The institute further apprehends that the situation may deteriorate further and there are all possibilities of disturbances within the campus.”

It also said, "In view of the continued activities, disturbances, some of which are cited above, the institute has come to conscious conclusion that it is not safe, practicable and not in the interest of all students, teaching and non-teaching staff to continue its normal academic activities within the campus.”

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