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4 months after NUSRL Ranchi student strike, students claim changes merely cosmetic, problems persist [READ LETTER]

NUSRL Ranchi’s lockdown protest success was only cosmetic
NUSRL Ranchi’s lockdown protest success was only cosmetic

NUSRL Ranchi's four-day lockdown protest in April had ostensibly achieved administration acknowledgement of many of the top demands of protesting students.

However, the promises by the administration to take action have led to practically no progress since it was staged in April, the students now claim.

The students had demanded a “complete administrative overhaul” at NUSRL, which the university had allegedly only implemented in a cosmetic manner by a simple reshuffling of administrative posts and bringing in a temporary vice chancellor who is a “non- academician” and only a law graduate, the students have said.

NUSRL's university review, as per the provision in its founding statute, is now two years overdue and it is not clear whether the law school is even affiliated to the Bar Council of India (BCI) currently, because the administration had never invited the regulator for the law school's inspection, according to the students.

3 main demands

The students had called off the protests in April after having been assured, in writing, of three major demands, as we had reported at the time:

1. A new vice chancellor and a different administration

2. Transparency on NUSRL's finances through publication of records and through audit

3. A university review

According to a note prepared by the students and shared with us by a student representative, the temporary VC appointed by the university - former Jharkhand Judicial Academy director Gautam Chaudhary - had failed to deliver what had been promised and lacks the required qualifications to be vice chancellor.

The students wrote that:

Statute requires a regular Vice Chancellor to be part of the selection committee. How can a person who is not eligible to be vice-chancellor, head the selection committee? He cannot skip the selection process either as that would be a violation of statute that mandates presence of VC in the process. If he heads the selection committee, it would be ultra vires the statute of the University. Only a regular Vice Chancellor can make appointments as per the mandate of the Act governing the University. All such appointments even if made shall be illegal, owing to procedural irregularity

On the remaining administration the students, who are particularly aggrieved with the appointment of the assistant registrar, have stated:

Our endeavour for administrative overhaul miserably failed by the reshuffling of the posts based on personal preferences. What seems even more surprising is that the appointment of Mr. Gautam Chaudhary as the Vice Chancellor in Charge and also the Registrar on a temporary basis who was appointed because of administrative failure in the University, delegated his powers to the same administration by reshuffling it according to his whims and fancies which defies the purpose of entire exercise which we had gathered for and hence the result of our struggle has become futile.

NUSRL's website had no section publishing the university's financial records when we last checked before publishing this story.

The five year university review has been pending since 2015. The effects of the delay are visible in the “lacking” state of NUSRL's mess, library and medical facilities, the students claim.

When calling off the protests in April, the students had agreed on the university taking 15 days to address their biggest demands and three months to address the remaining demands.

Students have now again warned of an impending protest call if the demands in their latest letter to the administration are not met, including removal of the temporary vice chancellor and the assistant registrar, an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and reconstitution of administrative committees.

Chaudhary was not reachable for comment by phone and email since Friday.

Read full letter (PDF)

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