It was an afternoon of celebration for students, teachers and photocopy shop owners in Delhi University as the Delhi High Court lifted the ban on Rameshwari Photocopy Service.
The shop, located near Delhi School of Economics in north campus, was fighting the case since August 2012.
Students can now photocopy study material from books published by international publishing giants.
Overjoyed students said it was not just about the photocopy shop, but the larger right to access resource material for education, which was upheld by the court.
Dharmpal Singh, owner of the photocopy shop, said although he was yet to read the order, this meant a huge victory for the students.
“Most of the books are not available in the country and those which do, cost anywhere from Rs 3,000 to 8,000 and above. It is just not possible for students to buy these books. This made them buy locally sourced books, most which were not up to the mark,” he said.
Singh has been running the kiosk for 20 years.
Students enrolled in the Masters and PhD courses, in particular, were the worse-affected. Photocopying course packs (reading compilations) was the only option, as most of these books (reference readings) were out of print.
“While there is a batch of 80-100 students in each course, the university library has only a single copy of the book. In this case, photocopying remained the only option,” said Apoorva Gautum, president, Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge.
The association was formed soon after the ban was imposed in 2012 and became a party to the case. It includes around 200 students, including those in Delhi School of Economics and various central and state universities.
Teachers hailed the decision, saying it was a landmark judgment, not just for the country, but everywhere in the world where there is a curb on reproducing study material from books by big publishing houses.
“In subjects such as social sciences, we expect students to read from at least 30 different resources. Also, in India we have students from different social and economic backgrounds and access to course material is a basic right for all of them. The judgment will cite an example for academic institutions across the world,” said Sudha Vasan, professor, department of sociology.