The Kerala High Court on Monday temporarily refrained self-financing colleges from taking any form of detrimental action against students belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category merely for not paying the college fee. The students in the BPL category were recently stripped of the scholarship scheme that was previously available to them.
Justice Devan Ramachandran further clarified that this direction was not confined o the petitioners alone but to every student falling under the BPL category.
"I make it clear that no student under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category will be put to any detriment in any form, including expulsion, etc, solely because they have not paid the fee to any of the colleges to which they are allotted."
The Court was adjudicating upon a plea moved by a few persons belonging to the BPL category through Advocate V. Sethunath alleging that they were allotted to the Self-financing Colleges by the Commissioner of Entrance Examinations and that they had accepted the allotment based on their own preference under the impression that they were entitled to a scholarship.
However, they argued that this scholarship now stood withdrawn on account of certain judgments and orders issued by the High Court. They moved the Court alleging that they have been left incapable of paying the tuition fees and are being threatened with expulsion from the college.
When this case was initially heard, without entering into the merits of the contentions, the Court had posed the following two questions before the State:
a) How can a 'BPL' student be asked to pay fees in the Self-financing Colleges even on a subsidized rate because the factum of the candidate being included under the BPL Category incapacitates him/her from doing so?
b) Since the scholarship has been withdrawn, how does the Government propose to protect the BPL students, including by either meeting their tuition fees and other expenses, or transferring them to Government Colleges, so that they can study without fees?
The State was asked to respond to these queries by today.
When the matter was taken up today, Government Pleader S. Sarojini G sought further time to respond to the various issues raised in the case.
Allowing this request, the Court posted the matter to be taken up on August 23.
In its earlier order, the Judge had also clarified that it was open to the Government to verify whether each of the students actually falls under the BPL category and added that these questions are applicable only to those students who fall within that category.
Case Title: Nimal James & Ors v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 417