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NUJS high drama: After anti-VC petition activist students pore over financials for EC, demanded registrar resignation

NUJS student politics are hotting up the place
NUJS student politics are hotting up the place
NUJS Kolkata students have been collecting evidence of possible administrative malfunctioning at the university, including asking for the resignation of a staff member they have accused of “embezzling” university funds, and clamouring for the executive council (EC) to consider its petition of “loss of confidence” in the VC.

Students believed they had found discrepancies in the financial accounts of the college and last week, the current student body president and vice president and a few other student representatives, “barged into the office” of the college’s registrar, Surajit Mukhopadhyay, demanding his resignation, Mukhopadhyay told Legally India.

The student body president declined to confirm or deny the incident, or comment to Legally India about the matter.

NUJS VC Ishwara Bhatt said: “Students wanted information so it was made available to them.” He declined to comment further saying that the matter of allegations against the registrar was “pending before the EC”.

The registrar told Legally India: “There were students who [were given permission to] go and inspect [university documents]. The very next day they come over to my office and say, we give you 24 hours notice, we have decided you should resign. I said students can’t ask for my resignation. The executive council appoints and the executive council will dismiss [those appointed].”

“All documents were made open to them. They forced themselves into offices. The accounts office was overrun by students - students coming in and demanding that we want to [inspect] now at this very moment,” he added.

The registrar said he planned to raise the issue of this incident in the next EC meeting, which is scheduled for 8 February. He and other sources at NUJS confirmed that it is the first time in the history of the law school that students are inspecting university administration documents.

Students have so far also inspected other university records such as reports on academic standards and review of the academic staff, university sources confirmed.

Musing about the allegation, Mukhopadhyay commented: “Even today it is not fit for an academic to go into a mud-slinging match with the students. You have to dissuade them and to have to make them understand. The fact that the students were showing [as damning evidence] an audit report which is published [and not confidential] and which carries my signature along with two more signatories, shows that I am not a professional criminal and that they are so puerile.”

He added that he saw the incident as a “staged show” and an opposing faction’s “attempt to deflect attention from other [issues] at the university”, by “leaking some files” to the students.

NUJS official spokesperson Prof Ruchira Goswami commented that while the students had demanded the resignation of the registrar, after faculty engaged in dialogue the students agreed that an independent “inquiry into all financial dealings of university” and asking for “transparency” would be more constructive than demanding immediate resignations. The university has cooperated, documents have been provided to students and the matter would probably get taken up by the executive council on 8 February, she said, if the students submitted a written complaint.

The student initiative to probe accounts follows NUJS alumni having launched an online petition three weeks ago, expressing their “loss of confidence” in the present vice chancellor’s (VC) competence to run the university and requesting the chancellor’s intervention in restoring its standards. The online petition has had 428 signatories to date and sources claimed that students believe that on reaching 500 signatures it would be placed before the EC.

NUJS official spokesperson Prof Ruchira Goswami said that there was no official university position or comment she could provide on the petition.

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