The Delhi High Court held that a differently abled student is entitled to free-of-cost hostel accommodation within the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus until the completion of his Masters degree course in Sociology.

The petitioner, a 100% visually disabled student, had filed a writ petition before the High Court since he had not been allotted any hostel since his admission.

JNU had stated that the student, a resident of Delhi, was a “49 year old man” who was pursuing his third Masters’ degree course with the JNU and argued that “there is an overwhelming element of public interest involved in restricting the availability of hostel facilities to students who are repeatedly pursuing one Masters course after the other from the JNU.

In response to the denial of hostel accommodation, the student filed a complaint with the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPWD) under Section 16 of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD Act).

A Single Bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar observed, “The RPWD Act, and all laws which strive to provide support to a person suffering from a disability, merely seek to neutralize the disability, so that the person’s ability matches those of the rest of his peers, and they stand on an equal footing. This is the heart of the theory of equal opportunity, which pervades Article 14 and, indeed, the Constitution as a whole.

Advocate Rahul Bajaj represented the petitioner, while CGSC Monika Arora appeared for the respondents.

In response to JNU’s argument about the student being a resident of Delhi, the Court stated “It is truly ironical, in this background, that the JNU is seeking to defend its case by relying on the fact that the petitioner – a 100% visually challenged student – has provided a residential address 21 km away from the JNU campus. The submission deserves no further comment.”

The Court had clarified that a “student who is pursuing a second Master’s degree course with the JNU, having already pursued and completed one, is as entitled to a place to stay as a student who is joining the JNU for the first time.

JNU raised several allegations regarding the conduct of the student on campus in response to this complaint. The Court noted that these allegations had no relevance to the student’s right to grant of hostel accommodation.

The Court pointed out that the “distinction that the JNU seeks to draw between students who are pursuing the same level of course – such as Masters – a second time with the JNU, and “fresh” students, has no legal basis to sustain it. Both are students.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the petition.

Cause Title: Sanjeev Kumar Mishra V. Jawaharlal Nehru University & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:1474)


Petitioner: Advocate Rahul Bajaj

Respondents: CGSC Monika Arora; Advocates Subhrodeep Saha and Kushal

Click here to read/download the Judgment