Delhi High Court: After the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union and the Teachers Union approached the High Court seeking a direction for setting up COVID care facilities in the University Campus, as also a COVID response team, and certain Oxygen facilities inside the University Campus premises, Prathiba M. Singh, J has asked the Registrar of JNU to file a status report, as to the steps taken by the administration of the JNU for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the JNU campus since 2020 and especially since 13th April, 2021.


  • Around the second week of April, the Petitioners wrote a letter to the Registrar, highlighting the alarming situation due to COVID-19 on the JNU campus, seeking various steps to be taken for controlling the situation.
  • A notification was issued on 18th April, 2021, by the Deputy Registrar of the JNU constituting a COVID-10 task force and a COVID-19 response team in JNU.
  • On 18th April, 2021, another letter had again been sent by the Petitioners to the Registrar of JNU, stating the massive surge of the number of positive cases within the JNU campus premises and highlighting the need for urgent steps to be taken. The same was followed up with further letters on 19th April, 2021 to the Vice Chancellor, JNU, and on 23rd April, 2021 to the ADM, New Delhi, requesting immediate intervention for setting up COVID care facilities within the campus.
  • The Petitioners, thereafter, are stated to have contacted the SDM for, setting up of the isolation and quarantine facilities.
  • The petitioners had also requested the faculty of Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, for drawing of plans for COVID care, which has submitted a proper proposal in this respect. Further, there is also a plan which has been devised by the School of Life Sciences, JNU, for producing Oxygen within the campus itself.
  • As pleaded, there were total of 74 cases around 18th April 2021 which has increased to 211 as on 7th May 2021.


The petitioners had highlighted before the Court that the right to life and health of all the residents/occupants in the campus is under severe jeopardy. The petitioners had accused the JNU administration of being guilty of `dereliction of duty’.

They had argued that despite repeated letters to the authorities of the University, the Secretary of Ministry of Education, the Secretary of the University Grants Commission etc., no action has been taken for setting up of a COVID care facility within the campus premises. Further, repeated letters to the SDM of the area have also not evoked any response.


“Considering the rigour of the current COVID-19 pandemic wave and the correspondence which has been placed on record, there is no doubt that the JNU administration ought to have reacted with swiftness and alacrity.”

Noticing that it has been almost a month, since the petitioners have been following up but the same has completely failed to evoke a response, the Court said,

“If this is true, this would constitute gross neglect by the JNU administration in a situation which is completely alarming. The University is bound to take care of the health of the students and teachers, and make available the facilities, to the extent possible, within the University campus, especially considering the prevalent shortages for hospital beds etc.”

The Court also too judicial notice of the fact that various organisations and institutions have gone out of their way, during the current pandemic, to make various facilities available to their employees and other stakeholders, in order to safeguard their health during the current surge of the COVID- 19 pandemic. It, hence, said that JNU ought not to be an exception in this regard.

It, hence, issued the following directions:

  1. The Registrar, JNU to immediately give instructions to the ld. counsel, and file a status report, as to what are the steps taken by the administration of the JNU in respect of the requests made and letters written by the Petitioners to the administration, for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the JNU campus since 2020 and especially since 13th April, 2021.
  2. The Vice Chancellor/Registrar of JNU to also ascertain the necessity and feasibility in respect of creation of the COVID care facility in the JNU campus and file a status report thereof. The report shall also take into consideration the proposals given by the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH) as also the proposal for inhouse production of oxygen, given by the School of Life Sciences. The authorities in JNU to consider if there is any modification required to the said proposals as has been suggested by the students and teachers associations. The modalities for creation of COVID care facility shall be mentioned in the report.
  3. The SDM/ADM of the concerned area to also place on record a status report, as to whether such a COVID care facility can be created at JNU, in accordance with the guidelines applicable, and if so indicating the manner in which the doctors and paramedics, as also nurses, would be made available for the said facility, and whether they would be tied up with any particular hospital, and if so, name the said hospital after obtaining its concurrence.
  4. Two meetings to be virtually convened by the Registrar of the Respondent University, chaired by the Vice Chancellor, one with the other internal administrative staff as also the concerned SDM/ADM of the area and another along with six representatives of the Students and the Teachers Union, as also the departments which have given the proposals, to work out the formalities and the protocols, in this respect.
  5. The status reports explaining the feasibility, modalities and timelines for setting up of a covid care centre, preferably with oxygenated beds, as directed, be emailed by both the JNU administration as also the ADM/SDM of the concerned area, is to be filed by 9 AM on 13th May 2021.

The Court will now hear the matter on May 13, 2021.

[Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association v. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 2019, order dated 11.05.2021]

For Petitioners: Advocates Abhik Chimni, Lakshay Garg & Shashwat Mehra,

For Respondents: Standing Counsel Monika Arora, with Advocate Shriram Tiwary and Standing Counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi with Advocate Aditya P Khanna

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