Students of the premier National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in Bengaluru are up in arms against the current ad-hoc university administration for delaying the appointment of a full-time Vice-Chancellor (V-C).
Students say although the successor has been chosen by an appropriate body, there has been an unnecessary delay of over two months and attempts are allegedly being made to restart the process.
The position fell vacant when the previous Vice Chancellor R Venkata Rao completed his term of 10 years on July 31. Meanwhile, a professor, MK Ramesh took charge as full additional V-C. The students allege that he should have been appointed as interim V-C. The Student Bar Association (SBA) alleges that the Registrar, OV Nandimath (also a professor) is acting with malafide intention to delay the process further. Nandimath was one of 16 applicants for the V-C post.
Earlier this year, a three-member High-Level Committee consisting of MP Singh (distinguished Jurist), KK Venugopal (Attorney General for India) and senior advocate Arvind Datar had been set up by the Chief Justice of India, acting as the Chancellor of the University, to recommend a suitable candidate to succeed Venkata Rao. This High-Level Committee had shortlisted three candidates, in a stated order of preference, and found Sudhir Krishnaswamy to be the most suitable of the three. But no affirmative action has taken place since then.
The student body's primary bone of contention is that there is a clear conflict of interest in Registrar Nandimath being an applicant for the post of V-C himself, as he is the person carrying out the procedural formalities for the appointment of V-C.
In an elaborate statement, the SBA of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) has detailed their viewpoint.
“The ad-hoc manner of functioning witnessed over the last six weeks does not bode well for any institution, much less for a prestigious institution such as NLSIU,” their statement says.
It adds, “We are made to understand that the causes of the delay are the misleading and dilatory nature of communications from the present Registrar of NLSIU, Prof. (Dr.) O.V. Nandimath, who is the Ex-Officio Secretary to the Executive Council (EC). We have reasons to believe that he is needlessly obstructing the appointment of the next Vice-Chancellor. The requests made by the student body for making the communications between him and the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India public have gone unanswered. The student body has lost all faith in his ability to act in an impartial manner in this matter. The Registrar should recuse himself from this process owing to his obstructionist behaviour and evident conflict of interest, having been one of the 16 applicants for the position of Vice-Chancellor.”
Despite repeated attempts made by TNM, the Registrar could not be reached for comment. The current additional V-C’s office told TNM that he is out of station and could not be reached either.
Students allege the present administration has been passing anti-student resolutions and sometimes without even issuing circulars.
A second-year student of BA-LLB said, “Recently we were told that the academic block will be shut at 10 pm when it was open 24x7 for all these years. Even the library is open till 3 am. Now suddenly without any official notice, they have asked the guards to shut the gates.”
He added, “Additionally, they (current admin) have tried to reduce the budgets of institutionally-run student bodies. These bodies organise seminars and conferences for which this institution prides itself on. Until now, facilities like accommodation for judges and other legal luminaries were borne by the University. But now they are charging exorbitantly for these accommodations, which would mean all our funds are exhausted in one event only.”
Students said that these student committees would have budgets to the tune of Rs 30,000- Rs 70,000 and with these new rules, they would be forced to curtail the number of events from seven or eight in a year to just one or two.