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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 1 hour before everyone else got to read it.

NLU Delhi GS Bajpai 6-year-run as registrar ends, to focus on research, Mar ‘21 crim law reform

GS Bajpai ends registrar tenure at NLU Delhi, to have hands full with criminal law reform
GS Bajpai ends registrar tenure at NLU Delhi, to have hands full with criminal law reform

NLU Delhi registrar Prof GS Bajpai, who has been in the role since 2014 under previous vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Ranbir Singh, has stepped down from the position.

In the interim, until a full search can be conducted for his permanent replacement, the acting registrar position will be taken over by Prof Anupama Goel, who had joined NLU Delhi in 2012 as an associate professor of law and is now a professor.

Update 17:33: NLU Delhi has released a notification (sic as applicable):

The Vice-Chancellor is pleased to relieve Prof.(Dr.) G.S. Bajpai from the additional duties of the Registrar with immediate effect

Further, in exercise of his powers under Statue 6(3) of the [NLU Delhi], the Vice-Chancellor is pleased to entrust the duties of the Registrar to Prof.(Dr.) Anupama Goel, Professor of Law in addition to her present duties with effect from 11th January, 2021 till further orders.

NLU Delhi notification
NLU Delhi notification

We have reached out to Singh's successor, VC Prof Srikrishna Deva Rao, for comment.

Bajpai said that in the six years of his tenure as registrar, NLU Delhi had seen many achievements, including its National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking in second place and “all major research centres became functional”.

“My achievement is only in terms of bringing a research focus in the functioning of the unviersity and that has made NLU Delhi a very, very distinctive institution from the rest,” Bajpai added. “I am a researcher, and being a researcher I’m very happy in the end that the vibrant research in the university is going very well.”

Bajpai said that he would remain at NLU Delhi and, looking ahead, there were six research projects he was working on.

Massive scale criminal reform committee

Of these, the highest profile, is no doubt the government’s mandate for NLU Delhi to run the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws. Its brief is no less than undertaking a wholesale “review of criminal laws in India”, and it is to “recommend reforms in a principled, effective and efficient manner which ensures the safety and security of the individual, the community and the nation; and which prioritises the constitutional values of justice, dignity and the inherent worth of the individual”, according to the original announcement by NLU Delhi about the committee.

Its chairperson is the university’s VC but Bajpai is the convenor and member, alongside DNLU Jabalpur VC Prof Balraj Chauhan, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani and ex-Delhi district and sessions court judge, GP Thareja.

Bajpai said that the deadline for concluding the report had been extended to March 2021.

“It is very big,” he said. “This is a landmark in many ways, the first time a university has been entrusted with this responsibility by the government.”

The committee had been controversial when it was first announced in late June 2020 with tight timelines and an apparent lack of women or “marginalised communities” represented amongst the senior members, according to complaints from interested lawyers, former judges and citizens, who had set up a website outlining their concerns by October 2020 (archived snapshot), as had been widely reported.

“Criticism is always welcome,” commented Bajpai, noting that the committee had “moved with all good intention”.

Out of the total of 25 people now working on the project, 10 were now women, he said.

Next permanent registrar hunt will be on

Bajpai’s appointment had allegedly happened without an advertisement or search committee back in 2014, which had attracted a writ petition in December 2019.

While, as we had outlined back then, the NLU Delhi VC does have wide powers to appoint a registrar without a committee, though technically another section of the NLU Delhi establishing Act required a search committee for the post.

That petition was dismissed by February 2020, noting that Bajpai had been duly qualified to be appointed as registrar, despite not having an LLB or LLM degree and not having been appointed via search committee.

That said, according to an NLU Delhi faculty source, it seems likely that a search committee will be looking into appointing a permanent registrar this time.

Update 17:33: As the notification makes clear, Goel has been appointed under section 6(3) of the university’s governing act, same as in Bajpai’s case.

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