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NLSIU appoints assoc prof OV Nandimath as registrar, alum warns of judicial challenge

Nandimath: Academics first
Nandimath: Academics first

NLSIU Bangalore appointed an associate professor Dr OV Nandimath as its new registrar on Thursday, to succeed former registrar Prof V Nagaraj who was appointed as NLUO Cuttack’s vice chancellor (VC) on 4 March.

The NLSIU executive council (EC) which has the statutory power to appoint the registrar nominated EC member and former Supreme Court justice Shivaraj V Patil to review all applications for the post and select one candidate. Patil was nominated in April, after Nagaraj vacated office on 15 March.

“[The EC] have not been consistently using one tool every time [for the appointment of the registrar]. Seniority is one of the criteria for selection. This time they constituted a one-man committee to look into the matter, and he [assessed] the service records and CVs of all professors [who had applied for the job],” explained Nandimath.

Nandimath, who teaches law of torts to first-year students, banking and finance to fourth-year students and a post-graduate course, said he will continue to teach his courses throughout the year in addition to performing administrative duties.

“All my predecessors have consciously handled their academic duties as well. It is because I was a teacher that I am holding this position,” he said and added: “We are associated with institutional excellence, at the core of which is academics. As a registrar I have the very very limited role of providing the right environment to support our academic activities.”

Nandimath graduated with an LLB degree and LLM from Karnataka University in 1994 and 1996 respectively, and joined NLSIU as a lecturer in 1997 after which he completed his PhD from Karnataka University. He was promoted to assistant professor at NLSIU in 2001 and to associate professor in 2006.

He said that he was informed of his selection to the post “all of a sudden” and that “a little part of [his] own personal commitments and calendar are clashing” with his newly assigned duties as registrar.

Unhappy alumni

NLSIU Alumnus Vikram Raghavan yesterday wrote an email to NLSIU VC Venkat Rao opposing Nandimath’s appointment.

The text of the email, which was shared on NLSIU’s Facebook group, is as follows:

Dear Vice Chancellor,

As you know, I don't usually appreciate alumni interference in the Law School's administration or management. But I do want you to know that many alumnus, including me, are deeply shocked and outraged at the manner in which the new registrar was selected. The passing over of Professors S. Japhet and V.S. Elizabeth is very troubling to say the least. And I understand that the selection was made without the basic courtesy of an interview with the candidates who applied...

This decision is certainly vulnerable to a judicial challenge, and I fully expect one to be made. Moreover, it is unlikely to win any fans among the alumni who are already quite agitated over various matters. I do want to let you know that I am very disturbed by what has happened.

On Wednesday Legally India reported how NLSIU’s administration side-stepped Right to Information (RTI) requests seeking transparency in its student-grading system, information on measures taken to curb cheating in exams, and the reasons for the dismissal of former visiting faculty and alum Sidharth Chauhan.

On 1 March - a day after Chauhan’s notice period at the campus had ended - he emailed an open letter to the NLSIU community, alleging that his dismissal was a warning meant for other faculty members and staff not to question Rao’s administrative decisions. Chauhan was allegedly dismissed summarily from his position for writing an open email to Rao criticising his non-consultative manner of imposing a 9pm ban on opening the law school gates.

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