Students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in Bengaluru have intensified their stir against the present administration over the post of the Vice Chancellor (V-C) of the university. Over Friday and Saturday all classes including those for post-graduate courses were cancelled as students boycotted classes as a mark of protest. Now, students have threatened to boycott their semester exams that are set to start on Monday.
At the heart of the matter is the appointment of the Vice Chancellor of the university. On July 31, R Venkata Rao completed his 10 year term. As per procedure, a high-level committee appointed by the Chief Justice of India – who is the Chancellor of the law university – had identified a successor even before Venkata Rao’s term ended. The three-member consisting of MP Singh (distinguished Jurist), KK Venugopal (Attorney General for India) and Arvind Datar (senior advocate) had named NLSIU alumnus and Azim Premji professor Sudhir Krishnaswamy as Vankata Rao’s successor, and this was officially announced on August 2 this year. However, the university decided to bring in a professor named MK Ramesh as “Additional V-C” and did not appoint Sudhir Krishnaswamy.
The Student Bar Association (SBA) has alleged that this is because the man in charge of making administrative appointments – Registrar OV Nandimath – had himself applied for the V-C’s post, and had lost out to Sudhir Krishnaswamy. Nandimath was one of the 16 applicants for the V-C’s post. The student body had pointed at a potential conflict of interest for 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. Students alleged that the Registrar is acting with “malafide intention” to delay the process.
In a statement, the SBA on Sunday said, “Unfortunately, our attempts have not borne any results and have only met with apathy and disregard. The Student Body was told that they are not important stakeholders in the administrative functioning or the appointment of the next Vice Chancellor of the very university they are a part of.”
“Through a series of General Body Meetings, the Student Body was made aware of issues such as the conflict of interest that existed vis-à-vis the Registrar, the reasons for the delay in appointment, the alteration in the composition of the Executive Council from its previous session inter alia. The change in the composition of the Executive Council is particularly worrying as it may further delay the appointment process,” the statement said.
There were sit-in protests outside Registrar Nandimath’s office as well over the last two days.
Students allege the present administration has been passing anti-student resolutions, sometimes without even issuing circulars. Recently the students were told that the academic block will be shut at 10 pm when it was open 24x7 until this point.
More importantly, the current admins have tried to reduce the budgets of institutionally-run student bodies which organise seminars and conferences, the students said. While until now, facilities like accommodation for judges and other legal luminaries were borne by the university, the administration now wants to charge the student bodies exorbitant for the same.
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.