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GNLU tells HC creative expansion of Bimal Patel's powers won't apply here; Judgment out tomorrow

GNLU director grows even more powerful
GNLU director grows even more powerful

GNLU Gandhinagar told a high court today that it will not immediately use the new regulations it had enacted to give its director supreme disciplinary powers to punish a student for prohibited conduct during exams. Through the new regulation the director had co-opted this power from the domain of GNLU’s executive council (EC).

GNLU’s EC enjoyed certain disciplinary powers. The director, Bimal Patel, did not have those powers under Regulation 44(f ) of the Gujarat National Law University (Academic, Mooting, Internship, Examinations, Hostel and Other Matters) Regulations 2015.

Purportedly a few weeks after a student filed a high court challenge against Patel’s allegedly improper exercise of the power that was not his but the EC’s, GNLU amended a regulation to transfer the power from the EC to Patel.

The amendment was dated 27 February 2016 but was not published on GNLU’s website at least until 30 March 2016, and may have only been uploaded around 12 May. On 4 May 2016 the student won against GNLU and Patel, and the order in his favour specifically noted that Patel had “decided to supplant himself for the authority of the Executive Council”.

The order also stated that Patel and other staff members had turned GNLU into an oligarchy. GNLU challenged it by way of a letters patent appeal.

The first time GNLU ever mentioned the existence of the amended regulation, was on Tuesday, during arguments in the appeal.

However, today GNLU backtracked on its earlier citation of the amended regulation.

As Gujarat high court justices MR Shah and AS Supheria reserved judgment in the appeal GNLU assured the court that in the student’s disciplinary case – which would be decided through an extra-judicial enquiry – the old regulations would apply and the EC, and not Patel, would be the supreme disciplinary authority.

Around 20 GNLU students were present in the courtroom which was packed as the case closed today, with the judges indicating that they will appoint two distinguished professionals outside GNLU, to hold the enquiry.

Advocate Gursharan Virk, who was acting for the third year student Jaymin Brahmbatt, prayed that the enquiry should be held outside GNLU’s campus, that Brahmbatt should be allowed to be accompanied by a guardian or representative and that the enquiry should take place under the old regulations. GNLU, through senior counsel Mihir Thakore, did not object to the prayer that the old regulations should be applicable.

Today the judges said that they were inclined towards an amicable resolution between the parties and a middle path.

Brahmbatt filed the case after he was subjected to disciplinary action in November 2015, for alleged cheating during an exam, and his exam was cancelled.

GNLU had also filed for an urgent hearing of its appeal, during the Gujarat high court’s vacations, but its application was dismissed with the observation that the court did not have confidence in the fairness of an enquiry conducted within GNLU’s “four walls”.

Patel did not respond to a messaged request for comment.

Virk declined to comment.

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