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Download parts of 3-judge Nalsar report slamming exam leaks, student drowning, mooting favouritism, law school rankings & more

Report in the matter of Nalsar: Not flattering
Report in the matter of Nalsar: Not flattering
Exclusive: Nalsar Hyderabad yesterday responded to Legally India’s Right to Information (RTI) request of 12 January, disclosing part of the highly critical September 2011 report of the three-judge committee headed by Justice Syed Shah Mohammed Quadri investigating the college.

Three weeks after Legally India’s RTI application was sent via email and by next-day courier, and one day after the Times of India published excerpts from the report reportedly stumbled across by “state auditors”, Nalsar public information officer B Nagalakshmi and RTI appellate authority and registrar professor Sridhar Acharyulu emailed Legally India a partial copy of the report of around 90 pages. More than 50 pages of the report were not sent to Legally India via the internet, due to apparent technical difficulties relating to the scanning process and the size of the file.

Acharyulu promised to send Legally India a full hardcopy of the report, as soon as the courier fees were remitted to Nalsar by Legally India.

In addition to the points reported by Times of India on Tuesday concerning financial irregularities, awarding building and other contracts as favour, the excerpts from the report prepared for the college’s chancellor, the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Justice, dealt at length with issues such as grievances in the Nalsar student body with vice chancellor Veer Singh.

[Download the partial copy of the report received by Legally India to date here]

VC’s pets

The report highlighted complaints from students and faculty about the “disproportionately concentrated” power in the office of the vice chancellor (VC), to make decisions ranging “from granting funds for various contests to granting permission to leave campus, from allowing organization of a national debate to permitting students to open the recreation room and use the drum kit therein”.

On the VC’s grant of academic leave it mentioned: “Requests by students known to him are viewed more favourably than those unknown to him … the merit of the application doesn’t matter as much as the person who would lay that application before the concerned authority.”

Four keys, but one dismissal

The report alleged a “complete lack of security in ensuring secrecy of the question papers for the final semester examinations”, referring to the leakage of question papers of the internal April 2011 examination. Keys to the examination room were available with the VC, registrar, examination section in charge and cleaning staff.

It noted in particular: “Curiously it was only the office assistant cum driver who was dismissed from service. Four students involved in this unsavory episode, were expelled from the University. The pay of the Sr. Assistant (Examination) was reduced by four annual increments, and the Jr. Assistant in the examination section was warned.”

On the absence of measures against the VC and other administrators, it added: “Except for reconstitution of the examination committee, none of the faculty were faulted for such serious lapses in leakage of the final semester examination question papers. Neither the examination committee, nor any one else in upper echelons of administration, were held accountable, let alone any action taken against them”.

Sub-dictatorship

Quadri’s committee reported that it encountered across a “widespread belief” among faculty and students that Nalsar proctor and professor Vijender Kumar “has been accorded favoured treatment by the Vice-chancellor”.

There was particular dissatisfaction among students over Kumar’s role as convener of the moot court committee. The report noted: “he identifies and selects students for participation in moot court competitions, both within the country and abroad … there is intense competition among students to participate in moot courts”.

“Several students have expressed their reservation on the manner of selection, for participation in moot courts, by the Moot Court Committee. Allegations of favouritism, in selecting students for participation in moot Courts, have also been leveled against Prof. Vijender Kumar.”

On Kumar’s tenure as chief warden in June-August 2008, the report noted: “…students of the 2005-2010 batch leveled serious allegations against him in their letter dated 08.08.2008 addressed to the then Chancellor, NALSAR”.

In this letter the students complained that “many students had been victimized by Prof. Vijender Kumar, the then Convener of the examination committee, even in his capacity as a teacher. A few such instances were cited. They also complained that a section of students, belonging to the reserved category, had been discriminated against by the said Convener, the concerned students were called to his chamber privately and were humiliated; and they were openly threatened that they would fail their examinations”.

“They also referred to ‘Child Rights and Social Duties’ consultation organized by NALSAR, for which academic leave of the student volunteers were approved by the faculty concerned and the Registrar. However the same was rejected by Prof. Vijender Kumar, the then Convener, without assigning any reasons”, added the report on the letter.

The report also mentioned the “First NALSAR Academic Review, 2009” which rated Kumar’s teaching abilities highly despite student complaints demanding his speedy removal from the examination committee and from chief warden’s post as “they had lost all confidence” in him.

Kumar did not return Legally India’s calls for comments two weeks ago.

Attitude problem?

“What’ll you do by viewing a corpse?” was Veer Singh’s alleged retort to requests for a college bus for those who wished to travel to the mortuary to pay their last respects to Nalsar student Mahesh, revealed the report.

Mahesh had died by drowning in Nalsar’s club swimming pool in June 2011, and the report highlighted that “the administration had seriously erred in informing the boy’s parents that their son had drowned in an intoxicated state, without even inserting an element of uncertainty into the pronouncement”.

The committee was informed that “the deceased student’s friends had testified, and the preliminary autopsy reports indicated, that the said student had not consumed alcohol that evening”.

The report alleged: “When they [students] expressed their grievance to the Vice-Chancellor, and requested that they be granted an additional day, (apart from the day after Mahesh’s parting), for mourning, the Vice-Chancellor had informed them ‘If your batch-mate decides to drink at 16:30 hours and then leaps into a well, what am I to do? You all killed him, why should I give you a day off?”

A jumbled state of affairs

While to a large part voicing student woes, the report also examined alleged irregular book-keeping at Nalsar, particularly in Nalsar’s conduct of the Common Law Admissions Test (CLAT) 2009.

On payment of honorariums to Nalsar staff for CLAT, the report stated: “The note put up for the approval of the Vice-chancellor, (which was approved by the Vice-chancellor on 24.9.2009), records that ‘the total amount of honorarium for CLAT-2009 staff was included in the statement of accounts which the Core Committee has approved in its meeting held on 18th September, 2009’.”

But what was actually part of the record of the 18 September meeting was merely a detailed statement of accounts, including a detailed statement of CLAT-related expenditure, which was approved before honorarium payments were made later in November, 2009, according to the report.

“That certain faculty members were paid honorarium for CLAT-2009 is not the issue. What is of concern is the lack of transparency in furnishing details thereof either in the schedule to the balance sheet or in the income and expenditure account of NALSAR for the financial year 2009-10”, adds the report.

Singh did not respond to an email seeking comments on the report yesterday.

Update: [thanks to reader comment abc for reminding us, had forgotten to include the law school ranking part of the report]

Law school rankling?

The report draws attention to “wasteful expenditure incurred” on an advertisement by Nalsar in India Today’s magazine issue that ranked the university as Indians number one law school, as reported by Legally India at the time.

“‘India-Today’, July 18th 2011 issue, carries details of the ‘India Today – Neilson’ survey of the top 10 law colleges in the country among whom NALSAR, Hyderabad is shown as No. 1. Curiously, the very same issue carries a one page advertisement by NALSAR,” highlighted the report.

The report further claimed Nalsar had a practice of advertising in those issues of India Today which carry the ratings for top 10 to 25 law colleges in India, since 2006-07, adding that “National Law School, Bangalore does not incur such needless advertisement expenditure”.

Legally India had reported at the time that NLIU Bhopal and Symbiosis Pune also had full-page advertisements, which were ranked at third and fifth respectively.

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