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Mumbai: IIT-B students have to pay a heavy price for their mischievous acts

Students have revealed that they have paid anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 in fines for varying offences, and complain that the institute has not even provided a set of rules to follow

Getting caught in acts of mischief and paying fines are part and parcel of college life for most students, but the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) has taken it to an extreme, with reports emerging of student paying hefty fines anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 for varying offences.

The institute is known to have fined students anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000, for offences varying from alcohol consumption to damage to property. File pic
The institute is known to have fined students anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000, for offences varying from alcohol consumption to damage to property. File pic

In the latest edition of the institute’s student magazine Insight students have highlighted the excessive fines they have had to pay for misdemeanours ranging from alcohol consumption on campus to feeding dogs inside the hostel premises.

“It is not uncommon for students to be charged anything between Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 depending on the seriousness of the offence. What makes this worse is that there’s no particular formal list of rules the students are expected to adhere to.

When we’d asked the authorities to draft one, we were told that what an IITian should and should not do should be self-evident to the students,” said Anshul Avasthi, chief editor of the magazine.

He added that while there are no statistics on the highest monetary fine levied on a student on campus till date, there have been articles printed previously, stating that a student caught consuming alcohol within the campus was fined Rs 10,000.

Students have questioned the need for such heavy penalties, as they not only blow a hole in students’ already restricted finances, but also seem to have failed to deter others from breaking rules.

Pertinent questions
‘Can the severity of an offence really be assigned a monetary value? If not, why was this system put in place anyway?’ and ‘is this system achieving the goals it had set out to?’ are just some of the questions that
students have raised in the magazine.

According to them, fines were never collected from students before April 2007. “Previously, a student who was found violating any institute rule was either let off with a warning or had to face senior authorities in serious cases. As the cases began to grow numerous, the authorities came up with a monetary penalty to serve as a middle path,” states the article.

But, they have also pointed out that the fines end up pinching them considerably, especially with middle-class students who cannot afford to pay thousands in fines. They added that several students have been known to lie to their parents in order to find the money to pay the fines, defeating the entire purpose of the penalty.

In the magazine, students also asked senior professors to explain what purpose the fines serve, and whether they have reduced the number of transgressions committed at the institute, but the professors had no answer either.

U A Yajnik, dean of student affairs, told mid-day that monetary fines were decided upon by the institute so as to avoid taking academic action against students who were found flouting the rules.

“We didn’t want anything to affect the career of any student, and, therefore, this decision was taken. Even to put students on social service as punishment seems to bring about little change,” he said.

Yajnik added that as of now, a proposal has been made to the management, to initiate a conduct report for every student, along with an academic report. “This report will record the behaviour of the student while on campus, and can be submitted to the employers during placement season,” he added.

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