Students and Faculty petition NUJS’s Academic Council over fall in academic standards and opaque administration

Students and Faculty petition NUJS’s Academic Council over fall in academic standards and opaque administration

Last week, students as well as faculty at the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata have submitted separate petitions to the Academic Council of the University. Academic Council is the apex body of the University for all academic matters. Both the petitions pertain to, deterioration of academic standards and protest against an opaque and arbitrary administration prevailing at the University.

The petition submitted by Student Juridical Association (SJA) mainly highlighted the loss of faculty at NUJS. In the recent past, almost nine faculty members have either left the University or are on leave for other commitments. The petition pointed out that the vacancies have not been filled and this has led to acute shortage of faculty. Owing to this, the existing faculty are urged to take up courses which are not their area of specialisation and leading to fall in academic standards.



List of Faculty

Recent faculty recruitments have also been questioned by the SJA, on account of lack of transparent selection process and the quality of these recruits. 

Excerpts from the petition:

Quote 1

The SJA mentioned in their petition, unlike in the past, the University has not been able to offer much elective courses by eminent professors. Lastly, the Petition mentioned about lack of transparency with regard to academic matters at the University. Earlier, a petition to the Vice-Chancellor did not yield any response and this prompted the SJA to escalate the matter to the Academic Council.

Excerpts from the petition:

Quote 2

The petition submitted by the faculty pointed out instances of favouritism by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Ishwara Bhat in selection of faculty. The Vice-Chancellor has appointed two of his students from Mysore Universty ignoring highly qualified other candidates. Particularly, Associate Professor Sadipa Bhat has been appointed after ignoring highly qualified trade law scholar, Sheela Rai. Rai even had an Oxford University Publication to her credit among other impressive academic credentials. 


Excerpts from the petition:

 

Quote4

Speaking to Live Law, Dr. Ishwara Bhat said, “These allegations are not true. The candidates have been selected based on their credentials. There is a need for more faculty and we will be notifying the vacancies soon. We are trying our best to maintain a cordial relation with the faculty and the students. The high standards followed by the institution definitely need to be maintained and we will put in our best for that.”

The petition submitted by the faculty also raised objections about the manner in which various committees were constituted overlooking seniority. The issue of grace marks being allotted arbitrarily was another cause of concern.

Excerpts from the petition:

Quote 3

Faculty have also raised objection about elective papers being made compulsory. The petition alleges that this is done as per the decision of one Associate Professor and later ratified by the Vice-Chancellor.  Subjects such as Intellectual Property Rights, Banking Law, Agricultural Law, etc. were made compulsory from optional/elective papers. This is against the current Bar Council of India norms. Initially this move was done under the disguise that students wanted the subjects to be made compulsory (as electives can be pursued only by few students). The SJA corrected this impression and informed that the majority of the students did not clearly want this as a compulsory subject.

The petition further complained about lack of regular faculty meetings. A similar complaint was raised by Sidharth Chauhan at the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore and that led to his
arbitrary dismissal from the University by the Vice-Chancellor
, Dr. Venkat Rao. The question left is; will the NUJS Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ishwara Bhat dare to follow Dr. Rao?