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Jindal law school introduces electronic fingerprinting to take attendance

CSI Sonepat
CSI Sonepat

Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) Sonepat has started taking electronic fingerprints of students to check their attendance of lectures, which has been criticised by a minority of students and faculty.

On Monday (18 August), JGLS introduced a compulsory electronic register that students would have to swipe their fingerprints on within 15 minutes of the start of a class, or face not getting credit for having attended.

Teaching staff will also have to swipe into the register within 15 minutes of the start of the course with a non-biometric ID card.

A small number of students and faculty members are understood to be opposed to the system on civil liberties and privacy grounds.

Commenting, JGLS vice chancellor Prof Raj Kumar said that the system was introduced because with 1,300 law students and 100 courses, manual attendance and roll calls were cumbersome and resulted in discrepancies.

“This [fingerprint system] will ensure that the record will be very authentic,” he said. “At the end of it there are no claims and counterclaims [about the authenticity of the record].”

Admitting that when at Harvard or Oxford university there was no attendance requirement, in India the reality was very different and in taking attendance the college was only following the minimum attendance requirements stipulated by the Bar Council of India (BCI), said Kumar.

While he said that he recognised that some students were worried about the privacy implications of sharing their fingerprints with the college, Kumar argued that the college actually held far more about students than fingerprints, such as their address, or records about their family and health.

The fingerprint data would only be “used for the limited purposes of ensuring proper attendance policies are followed” and “all aspects of privacy and confidentiality” would be maintained, he claimed.

“We strongly believe in ensuring privacy and civil liberties and this is all part of our effort to balance [those rights]. No society will argue that [these rights are] all absolute… and here we've struck for the right balance, and we need to collect some info and limited to that purpose only and not to be shared with anybody else.”

In June Legally India had reported that Jindal had ended its harsh but (apparently never enforced) cash penalties on students, in an effort to balance discipline and the security of students with their freedom.

Photo by CPOA

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