After 12 years as the founding Vice-Chancellor at National Law University Delhi, Professor (Dr.) Ranbir Singh will demit office on 23rd September 2020. However, after a meteoric rise under Professor Singh's leadership, it looks like NLU Delhi is headed for a leadership vacuum later this month. With just 3 weeks to appoint a new Vice-Chancellor, the selection process that started in October 2019 seems to have stalled after almost a year. The University's Governing Council needs to meet to take the appointment process forward, followed by a formal appointment by the Chancellor of the University (the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court). However, regulations require a 2-week notice for the Governing Council to meet and LiveLaw has reliably learnt members of the Governing Council are yet to be informed of any such meeting.
The Selection Committee comprising Justice GS Sistani (since retired from the Delhi High Court), Professor (Dr.) Vijaykumar (Vice-Chancellor, NLIU Bhopal), and Professor (Dr.) Balraj Chauhan (Vice-Chancellor, DNLU Jabalpur) shortlisted 3 names at the end of a process that saw a public call for applications and interaction with the committee. The 3 names were finalised towards the end of February/ early March 2020 and the next step, as per the NLU Delhi Act, was for the Governing Council to consider these names. The pandemic and expiry of the term of the previous Governing Council members meant further delay in getting new Governing Council members appointed.
Two members of the Governing Council have confirmed that they are yet to receive any notice of the meeting required to carry forward the selection process. Once the Governing Council meets, 1 out of the 3 shortlisted names will be forwarded to the Chancellor of NLU Delhi (Justice DN Patel, Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court) who then needs to make the formal appointment. The Governing Council is headed by Justice NV Ramana, who is the Chief Justice of India's nominee as the Visitor.
This year, in July, a NLUD students' representation to the Chancellor (Chief Justice D.N. Patel) complaining about the "sluggish pace" in searching for a new Vice Chancellor, seems to have gone unanswered.
After the vexed and protracted Vice-Chancellor appointment process at NLS Bengaluru, this is the second instance of a leading Indian law school struggling to address its leadership transition. Given the challenging times due to the pandemic and the economic slowdown, a leadership vacuum is likely to have acute repercussions for all stakeholders in the University.
Views are personal only.
Author is a Delhi based Lawyer