The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed Jawaharlal Nehru University students to pay winter semester fees based on the old hostel manual within one week if they have not yet done so, Bar and Bench reported. Protests had erupted in November against an increase in fee and continued despite a partial rollback.

The court was hearing a petition filed by students’ union President Aishe Ghosh and other office-bearers, who had challenged the fee hike and the new hostel manual notified last year. The court ruled that the government cannot get out of the education sector and that it has to fund public education.

The court ordered that no late fee shall be imposed on students for registering after the deadline. Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued a notice to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the University Grants Commission, and asked them to file their response within two weeks.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand asked the court to reject the plea, saying that 90% of the students have already paid the increased fee. She added that it would not be fair to allow the remaining 10% to register for the winter semester as per the old hostel manual, PTI reported.

“Those who have paid, have paid,” the court said. “If 90% have paid, then your financial concerns have been more or less taken care of. Rest of the funds you can arrange. For now engage with students, have a dialogue with them.”

Senior advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for the students’ union, told the court that since the election of 2018-’19, the university had stopped engaging with student leaders and their views were being sought “less and less” on matters concerning them.

“Government cannot get out of education,” Shakdher said. “Government has to fund public education. The burden of paying the salaries of contractual workers is not on the students. Someone has to find the funds.”

The case will be heard next on February 28.