The suspension of physical classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing reduction in expenses for running a physical campus, coupled with economic difficulties, has seen law students in various institutes lock horns with the administration demanding fee discounts..The students of the Dr BR Ambedkar National Law University (DBRANLU), Sonepat, however, have registered grievance over a more unique problem, in that they claim that their financial woes started even before the pandemic’s advent.They claim that they have been made to pay for facilities that were never provided by the University. As per a statement issued by student representatives:.“At the time of admission, we were promised various facilities and were duly charged for the same, including Wi-Fi, Health and sports, e-library and legal databases, moot court, ATM, etc., as per the prospectus of the academic year 2019-20. However, we were not provided with any of these facilities throughout the year in spite of multiple requests to the authorities. The University itself has also admitted this while replying to the RTI applications.The students had to bear the health and moot court expenses on their own, even though they had already paid for these. Moreover, due to the pandemic and subsequent closure of the university, a significant amount of advance mess fees also remained unused. Thus, a colossal amount of approximately Rs 39,000 per student remains unutilized, which must be refunded or adjusted accordingly in the forthcoming semester fee.”.Promises in prospectus v. ground reality.DRBRANLU was established in 2012 and the first batch of students was admitted last year. This batch of students is presently in their second year of law school..The students concede that during the pandemic period, the University administration did give some fee relief in terms of not levying payments under the heads of hostel fee, mess fee, health and sports fee, and amenities for their third semester..However, it is pointed out that this does not address their concern regarding the fees taken for various unutilised services in the previous two semesters in their first year of study (2019-2020)..Right to Information (RTI) replies received on student queries earlier this year indicated that the University did not have in place some of the facilities promised in its prospectus..“There is no record available in this office in this regard”, reads an RTI reply made in August this year, in response to a query over the arrangements made or expenses incurred by the University for moot court facilities, for which the University charges Rs 3,000 per year..Identical replies were made to queries regarding the details of moot court trainers and moot court workshops or seminars. A query made for the “complete details of expenses incurred by the authorities of DBRANLU for the purpose of moot court training” for the 2019-2014 batch drew a response that the “Information sought does not relate to this branch.”.In an August 14, 2020 RTI reply, it was stated that the students were yet to be given access to online legal databases such as SCC Online, Manupatra etc. It was added that the purchase of the same was underway and will be provided shortly..Under the head “Halls of Residence”, the University’s prospectus states that “There are two separate wings having ample occupancy for boys and girls with all necessary modern facilities and amenities like gymnasium, indoor games, air conditioned entertainment rooms, guest room etc.”.“Medical facilities, including visiting doctor is a part of the set up”, the prospectus reads further..In a representation addressed to various higher authorities earlier this year, however, the students raised grievance that,“… the students were not provided even with the basic health facilities on the temporary campus. In case, any student faced any health-related issue, he/she had to consult their doctors privately and had to bear the consultation and medical fee on their own.”.In another part of the prospectus, the University has promised that it would provide high-end internet faciltiies and that WiFi will also be available at the hostels.“… no such internet facility was provided to the students during the academic year 2019-2020”, the students informed various higher authorities in a representation made earlier this year..The students add that they have been paying excess amounts by way of advance mess fees, when it is tallied against the actual expenditure. In this regard, the students have estimated that about Rs 2,890 was paid in excess by each student for five months last year..Requests for aid yield little response.Representations urging for the refund of all other fees paid for services not utilised from the last year onwards were made to the administration as well as the higher authorities..In a response made in September this year, the administration informed the students that it would adjust the advance mess bill paid for the second semester against the actual mess bill in the following semester (i.e. the third semester). .As regards the other requests made by the students in their email for the refund of fees collected for unutilised services in their first year, the administration informed,“… your request has been considered by the competent authority of the University, and the same has not been acceded to.”.No reasons were given..Representations were also made to the Governor of Haryana, the Chief Minister, the Higher Education Minister, and the heads of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Haryana Bar Council..These representations were also made in view of there being no grievance redressal mechanism in the University, the students highlighted. They are yet to receive a reply to these representations..In view of the pandemic, the University administration had informed the students that it would only demand the annual fee in two instalments this year to avoid financial hardship..Rs 40,000 was charged for the tuition fee in the first instalment for the first half of the year..However, the students have questioned charging Rs 23,000 as the second fee instalment for the first half, given that it involves the levy of fees for moot court fees and library fee..Given the limited to none facilities in place, coupled with the fact that the students are presently learning remotely, the students have termed the same as unreasonable. .As stated in the representation made earlier to the higher government and Bar Council authorities,"During this unprecedented crisis, almost all the extracurricular activities, including the moot court competitions, have come to a halt. Therefore, it is unreasonable to charge the moot court fee of INR 3,000/… students are unable to access the library resources including books, journals, etc. due to the pandemic situation. Moreover, students are not at all provided with the basic legal databases and e-library like SCC Online, Manupatra, EBC Reader, etc.”.Ideally, the students stated that the fee payable under these two heads ought to have been omitted, bringing down the second instalment fee to Rs 18,000 instead of the Rs 23,000 that was levied..The students highlight that the University also threatened to strike off the names of students who failed to complete the payment by September 12. .A request to extend the final payment deadline in view of the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 lockdown did not find a favourable response..On September 16, a complaint was also filed with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The students received an intimation that the complaint has been transferred to the State Human Rights Commission on September 21. However, since then, the students have not received any update..In the meanwhile, students from various other NLUs - including RGNUL, DSNLU, NLUO and NLUJAA - have issued statements of solidarity.