The Karnataka State’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed an amendment to reserve 50% seats at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, for candidates who are domiciled in Karnataka. The Bill now needs to be passed by the Legislative Council.
The amendment to the NLSIU Act, 1986 was piloted by Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy in the absence of law minister T.B. Jayachandra. As per reports, the Bill initially reserved 30 percent of the seats for resident students of Karnataka. It had also defined domicile as a student whose either parent has resided in Karnataka for at least 10 years before the qualifying examination, and had stipulated that the student has to have studied in a recognized educational institute in the State for 5 years preceding the exam.
BJP members in the House, however, demanded that the reservation be increased to 50% and that the domicile requirement be brought down to a minimum of 7 years, rather than 10. With these amendments, the Bill was passed unopposed.
Currently, the NLSIU has 80 seats for the BA.LL.B (Hons.) programme, out of which, 57 are for the General Category applicants. For an LLM in Business Laws, 28 out of 35 seats are available for General Category applicants, and for an LLM in Human Rights Law, 12 out of 15 seats are available for General Category applicants.
On this, NALSAR Assistant Professor Sidharth Chouhan (former Visiting Faculty, NLSIU) said;
Since NLSIU Bangalore is a State University in the formal sense, the Karnataka government is well within its legislative competence to prescribe a domicile quota. However, the implementation of this measure would certainly take away from the national character of the student body. Many of the other NLUs have domicile quotas which are viewed as preconditions for continued financial support from the respective State governments. It will be difficult to argue against these domicile quotas in Court. A plausible solution in the long term is to seek the conversion of the NLUs into 'Institutions of National Importance' that are directly funded by the Central Government. However, such a shift might have another set of implications in terms of curtailing the autonomy required to run these institutions.