1. The large number of petitioners in this writ petition are employee students studying in the evening session of the V. R. College, Nellore. When they were admitted into their courses they were granted half fee concession on the ground that their income was less than Rs. 3600/- per year. But by a memorandum No. 2745/P2/69-10, dt: 16.11.1970, the Government withdrew this half fee concession to all employee-students. In consequence, the Principal of the College has called upon the petitioners, by his notice dt: 9.11.1971, to pay full term fee for the academic year. The petitioners now seek a mandamus restraining the respondents from enforcing this memorandum.
2. The material facts relating to this petition are not in dispute., By G. O. Ms. No. 14, Planning Department, dt: 24.1.1964, the Government directed that 'the fee concessions granted under Rule 82 of the Madras Educational Rules shall be extended to all poor students irrespective of their caste or creed. All students, the income of whose parents is less than Rs. 1,500/- per year, shall be considered poor.'
Then by Memo No. 3407422/66-2 Edn. Dt: 28.10.1966, the Government directed, accepting the recommendations of the Director of Public Instruction, that with effect from the school year 1966-67, the income limits for the purposes of fee concessions should be fixed in the case of Secondary Schools at Rs. 2400/- and for College Rs. 3600/-. It is on this basis that all the petitioners have been awarded half fee concessions on the production of certificates that their incomes were less than RS. 3600/-, per year. Now by memo No. 2745/P2/69-10 Edn. Dt: 16.11.1970 the Government Directed that after Note (iii) under sub-rule (b) of rule 219 of the Andhra Pradesh Education Rules, the following note shall be inserted viz.,
'IV : Concessions under this Rule shall not be granted to employee students studying in the evening colleges in the State'
3. By virtue of this amendment all employee students, whatever their or their parent's economic status may be, are denied the half fee concessions because they are employees.
4. Sri M.N. Rao, appearing for the petitioners impugns this on two grounds. One is that this withdrawal of fee concession to the employee-students, while retaining it to other students, is repugnant to the equality rule adumbrated in Article 14 of the Constitution. Secondly, having represented to the petitioners and made them believe that half fee concession would be given to them during their courses of study, the respondents are precluded by the principle of estoppel in withdrawing this concession.
5. The respondents have not filed any counter. But the learned Government pleader urges that Art. 14 has no application here because the employee students are earning members and differentiation between them and other students is a reasonable classification and does not therefore contravene the quality rule stated in art. 14. Since the financial position of the State has worsened, the Government were obliged to withdraw the half fee concession to the grown up students and therefore there is no question of estoppel either:
6. I am not persuaded to agree with the contention of the learned Government Pleader. I find considerable force in what Mr. Rao contends for. The rule laid down by the respondents and which is being followed for giving half fee concession is the economic backwardness or the students and their parents. Under Memo No. 3407, dt: 28.10.1966, the Government, on the recommendation of the Director of Public Instruction, prescribed Rs. 2400/- for high schools and Rs. 3600/- for colleges as the income limits. On a plain reading of G. O. Ms. No. 14 dt: 24.1.1966, if the income of a college student and his parents is more than Rs. 3600/-, he would not be entitled to half fee concession. If the combined economic position of the student and the parents is less than Rs. 3600/- they would be entitled to half fee concession. Now, by virtue of the impugned memo dt: 16.11.1970, the Government want to create new class of employee students, and to discriminate against them. It is clearly hostile discrimination against them, for the reason that even if their income and their parents' put together is less than Rs. 3600/- they would be denied the half fee concession. I fail to see how the employee-students would form a separate class simply because both the students and their parents are earning. I am not satisfied that this is a reasonable classification. In any case, there is no nexus between this classification and the object that is sought to be achieved by giving concessions to economically backward students, I have no hesitation in holding that the employee students are discriminated against by issuing the impugned G.O. it is consequently repugnant to art. 14 of the Constitution. I am supported in this view by the decision of the supreme Court in Income-Tax Officer, Assam v. Lawrence Singh, : 68ITR272(SC) .
7. In my opinion, the other argument addressed by Sri Rao that the respondents are precluded by the principle of estoppel from withdrawing the half fee concession in the midway is also justified. According to rules it would be sufficient, if, at the time of admission, the candidate produces a certificate showing his economic backwardness. On that certificate, half fee concession is granted to him for the entire duration of the course of study, unless on an information the concerned authorities withdraw it on the ground that his economic capacity has substantially increased. It is quite possible that a number of these petitioners and other employee-students would not have joined these courses of study, had not this half fee concession been made available to them. Having made them believe and act upon the representations, the respondents are now precluded to withdraw it all of a sudden during the course of their studies. This position is well established in Union of India v. Anglo Afghan Agencies, AIR 1968 SC 718 and Century Spg. And Mfg. Co. V. Ulhasnagar Municipality, : 3SCR854 .
8. By virtue of the proceedings issued by the Government, the petitioners have acquired a right to half fee concession. I accordingly issue a mandamus to the respondents not to enforce the memo No. 2745/P2/69-19, dt: 16.10.1970 in so far as the petitioners are concerned. The petitioners will have their costs from the respondents. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-.
9. Order accordingly.