•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

NLSIU RTI: Cheating not possible, Chauhan not exactly dismissed; Petitioner to appeal

NLSIU Bangalore has admitted that its teachers did not hold any formal discussions about a faculty member’s allegations that the law school’s students cheated in examinations.

The reply was to one of several queries in the first appeal to alumnus Prashant Reddy’s Right to Information (RTI) request.

NLSIU vice chancellor (VC) and first appellate authority for RTIs to the law school Venkat Rao relied on the “semantic difference” between “dismissal” and “dispense with the services” to state that former faculty Sidharth Chauhan wasn’t dismissed from NLSIU, in a reply to the query seeking reasons for Chauhan’s dismissal, according to Reddy.

Rao did not provide copies of executive council resolutions and other details sought in Reddy’s RTIs, despite Reddy’s assertion in the appeals that “confidentiality” was not tenable as a ground under the Act for withholding such information.

Cheating at NLSIU? “No Action taken”

NLSIU faculty member Shreya Rao had pointed out to the VC that some students had apparently copied answers from each other in repeat examinations. Reddy had requested for details of the action taken by NLSIU’s disciplinary committee in response.

The VC in his reply reproduced the following extract of the committee’s comment:

“It may be noted that the examination is based upon open book system and class notes were permitted to be taken to the examination hall. As such there is a scope for identical answers being written by some students. On enquiry, it was also found that the three students alleged to have been involved in the malpractice were sitting at different places in the examination hall which gives little scope to copy.”

He added that the law school took a “liberal view” and decided that “no action need be taken”, and that “the matter was not discussed in faculty meeting”.

NLSIU’s initial reply to the RTI stated that “a committee has been constituted and action has been taken”, without providing details of the action taken.

Inflated grades? “Answer holds good”

Reddy had asked in his RTI for the number of times and students that the VC had allowed the benefit of NLSIU’s “Grievance Redressal Mechanism”, which allowed for a change in students’ grades. Reddy had also asked for a list of the names of evaluators who implemented the changed grades.

NLSIU had withheld this information on the ground of “confidentiality”, however in his appeal Reddy asserted that “confidentiality” was not a ground under Section 8 of the RTI Act and he quoted precedents supporting his assertion.

Rao replied: “I have carefully examined the information sought by the applicant, the information furnished by the PIO and the grounds for the appeal. The answer given by the PIO with reference to the query no. 1 & 4 and Query no. 2 holds good.”

Sidharth Chauhan? “Dispensed with, not dismissed”

In the initial RTI response NLSIU had also replied that faculty member Chauhan was not dismissed. Reddy had therefore attached Chauhan’s dismissal letter with the appeal.

Rao replied to the appeal: “The letter that has been enclosed by the appellant does not indicate that Mr Sidharth Chauhan (Visiting Faculty) has been ‘dismissed’. Hence no reasons are required.”

To the query asking for the EC resolution authorizing Rao to dismiss Chauhan, Rao replied: “The EC authorized the Vice-Chancellor to dispense with the services of Mr. Sidharth Chauhan immediately so that further complications may be avoided.”

Rao did not provide Reddy with a copy of the resolution or a copy of the sheets evaluating Chauhan as a teacher on the ground of confidentiality.

“By drawing a semantic difference between ‘dismissal’ and ‘dispense with the services’ to deny us information the vice-chancellor is destroying the very spirit of the RTI Act, 2005. The RTI queries are not meant to be treated as questions posed during a cross-examination. The VC knows exactly what we are asking for and is completely evading our questions,” wrote Reddy in an email.

The replies have come over a week after the statutory period of 30 days for replying to first appeals had lapsed, as reported by Legally India. Rao had commented at the time that the statute allowed them 45 days to reply however Reddy had said that 45 days were allowed under the Act only under special circumstances.

Click to show 5 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.