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NLSIU student association: Will ‘pursue all possible options’ to oppose 50% state reservation

NLS SBA stands up, vows to fight 50% reservation tooth and nail
NLS SBA stands up, vows to fight 50% reservation tooth and nail

The NLSIU Bangalore student bar association (SBA) has released a strong statement vowing to resist the Karnataka state's new law introducing a 50% reservation for students from Karnataka.

The state reservation bill was first reported by the Economic Times on Tuesday (20 June), and is feared by students and others to significantly change the identity and strengths of the first national law school.

The SBA has now vowed its “opposition” to the “shocking” move, and that it would “pursue all available options” to ensure this would not be the “end of the road in this matter”.

Dear all,

The Karnataka legislature has passed an amendment the NLSIU Act to reserve at least 50% of seats at the National Law School of India University for residents of Karnataka to all courses of NLSIU. This is a sudden and shocking development. Last month, thousands of students from all over the country appeared for the CLAT Examination and MPP Admissions with the aspirations of being a part of NLSIU and similar such institutions. The extraordinary measure of introducing 50% domicile reservations will surely strike a blow to the countless number of meritorious aspirants who wish to be a part of the university.

The National Law School was founded as a national institution to provide exemplary legal education in our country. With the immense contributions of the legal and academic fraternity of the entire nation, the University has attained the stature that it holds at present. This stature is something which we are extremely proud of. The founding principles of this University have been to make it an institution of primary national importance, which is something we have attained through many years of effort from the faculty, the administration and students – students from diverse backgrounds, from across the country, who come to the University in order to gain a valuable and unique educational experience, and further the cause of legal development in India. One of the most cherished aspects of life at NLSIU has been the immense cultural and regional diversity which we have witnessed over the years. Such diversity has contributed to enhancing our learning experience manifold, and also led to many different parts of the country gaining from having well-trained lawyers and academics. Efforts to dilute that diversity strike at the core of the ethos of our University.

At the time of its inception, the University greatly benefitted from the generosity and cooperation of the State of Karnataka. We are an institution established by a State Act, built on state land. At a time when there was no equivalent or precedent available, the State of Karnataka gave the founders of NLSIU the space, time and resources to establish the University that they conceived of. For this, we will always be indebted to the State and the people of Karnataka. However, it remains to be seen how much of a role the Government of Karnataka has been playing in the University, especially in recent times. We are a largely self-financed institution, functioning with limited external funding and reliant on the income we raise through fees and grants from the UGC and benevolent individuals and bodies.

Many students from Karnataka have themselves studied at the University. They have been Rhodes Scholars and Student Body Presidents, and they have achieved great heights in their lives. Karnataka residents continue to do well at our University year after year. A great many of our graduates have contributed to the state of Karnataka in untold ways and continue to do so, be it as senior advocates, academics, constitutional functionaries, and civil servants who have dedicated their careers to the welfare of the state of Karnataka. All of that was and continues to be done without compromising on our diversity and our national character. This amendment goes against that ethos.

The achievements of NLSIU alumni are varied and several – they have not only excelled within India but have reached the far corners of the globe, and have they contributed immensely in their own ways. The contributions of NLSIU to the nation are unquantifiable, and unique. The new amendment to the NLSIU Act puts this very national character of NLSIU into question. The Act very clearly envisions a national law school. Domicile reservations of at least 50 per cent for a University with only around 80 students in each undergraduate batch and 40-50 students in each PG batch makes this goal extremely difficult. We struggle to find similar cases where half the seats have been reserved for domiciles in any other premier institution. Our University and other similar premier institutions have a larger nation-building role, and such a large quanta of seats being deemed only available to residents of a particular state would be contrary to our founding values, and the duties we fulfill as a National Law University.

Therefore, we believe that opposition to a move to reserve half of all seats at the University for residents of any one state is important. We do not consider this as the end of the road in this matter. We will pursue all available options, including continuing discussions at the State as well as Central level, with our Chancellor the Chief Justice of India, with the Bar Council of India, the Supreme Court and all other authorities concerned.

NLSIU must and will remain an institution whose doors are open to all young minds across the country and this is an assurance we wish to give to everyone.

Regards,

Mathew Nevin Thomas and Osho Chhel President and Vice-President, Student Bar Association

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