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NLS Bangalore averts cash crisis & builds as NLUs lobby Moily, Sibal back into Rs 8 cr UGC funding

NLS: Budget bridged, now building boom
NLS: Budget bridged, now building boom
Exclusive: NLSIU Bangalore has launched a host of new construction in its academic block, hostels and basketball courts while NLU Delhi has decided to renegotiate the pay of its foreign-educated faculty, after both law schools were sanctioned close to Rs 8 crore by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in November 2012.

A similar grant of between Rs 7.5 and 9 crore was also extended by the UGC to the other 12 national law schools (NLU) late last year under the eleventh five-year plan, after their vice chancellors (VC) lobbied aggressively against excluding the law schools from central funding.

NLU Delhi VC Ranbir Singh told Legally India that law schools were struck out of the purview of the grant around three years ago when the UGC’s former vice chairman “wrote on a file, [I] don’t know in which mood”, that NLUs belonged to the self-funded category of institutions.

Singh said that this administrative act of the UGC came to light when the VCs’ mentioned the dearth of funds during their discussions with former law minister Veerappa Moily, after he had announced his second generation reforms in legal education in 2010.

“[We brought to his attention] that we haven’t been getting grants. For some reason the grants have been stopped,” said Singh, and added: “Our condition was that all institutes are making money through self-financed courses. So stop everybody’s funding. Why should the IITs and IIMs get [Rs] 200-300 crores when here [in law schools] we are not even getting [Rs] 10 crores?”

In April 2012, after analysis of college financial accounts, NLSIU Bangalore was facing a Rs 2 crore funding gap in the 2012-13 financial year with the Karnataka government having also halved its grant from Rs 4 crore, Legally India had reported in Mint at the time.

On the other hand, the Delhi government had extended another Rs 15 crore to the five-year-old NLU Delhi in that financial year.

Both Singh and NLSIU vice-chancellor R Venkata Rao said VCs had been writing to the UGC for more than a year before June 2012 to get the funding back, without eliciting a response. Between June and August 2012 over 10 meetings were convened with the college heads, Moily and then human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal. According to Singh and Rao, they were sympathetic to the plight of the law schools.

“Hats off to Veerappa Moily for giving us such a patient hearing,” said Rao.

Rao said that the Rs 7.6 crore approved for NLSIU, in addition to the Rs 1 crore approved by the Karnataka government for the April 2012 to March 2013 financial year, will be used toward the construction of a new academic block, additional girls’ hostels, an “international training centre” with 212 “world-class” classrooms, new conference rooms, eight new basketball courts, and a “big examination room with improved acoustics”.

“The examination room will be ready for use when the college reopens next on 10 March 2013,” he added.

Singh said: “One thing we got approved from our academic council is that probably in the case of highly qualified people [in the faculty], such as from the Ivy League, Cambridge, Oxford we will renegotiate their salaries. Unfortunately when everyone remains in [the present pay] scale, some people will go off to the private institutes where there are worse-off students.”

In April 2012, NLSIU registrar V Nagaraj had told Legally India that attracting highly skilled lawyers to teaching remained a problem for the 15-year-old law school.

Last week Bangalore dismissed its 2008 alum and visiting faculty Sidharth Chauhan from service without reasons, as first reported by Legally India, after he had openly protested the administration’s imposition of a 9pm curfew in campus after an alleged rape near campus.

Rao yesterday reiterated that he wished to make no further comment on the decision aside from it having been an executive council decision, which he stood by.

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