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NLU Delhi English prof writs VC selection process as unfair for being biased towards law-teaching ‘Master Race’

Prof Prasannanshu appeals against NLUD VC selection process
Prof Prasannanshu appeals against NLUD VC selection process

An NLU Delhi professor who had applied for the post of vice-chancellor (VC) has filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court over the selection process for VC, terming it “grossly illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and not germane to the principle of intelligible differentia”.

Prof (Dr) Prasannanshu (pictured) teaches at NLU Delhi since 2009, having joined as an assistant professor and becoming full professor in 2015.

He stated in his petition that he had applied for the VC position on 11 November 2019.

However, he was never called to the selection committee meeting on 5 Feburary 2020 and the interaction with candidates on 25 February, nor was he provided with any communication or “any letter highlighting reasons for not inviting his candidature to the interview despite meeting the requirements enshrined in the advertisement” of October 2019.

Prasannanshu claimed that his fundamental rights to equality were not respected, and he was therefore forced to file the writ before the Delhi high court on 22 June 2020 against the VC selection committee, as well as NLU Delhi.

He teaches subjects such as “law and language, law and literature, law and communication, law and poetry, law and culture, linguistic justice and endangered languages”, according to his petition.

While he holds an LLB (from where is not specified on his university profile), the majority of his further education consists of non-law degrees: a BSc from Delhi University (DU), as well as a DU linguistics MA, MPhil and PhD.

He said in his petition that his not being invited for interview, fundamentally amounted to discrimination against non-law teachers:

In the workload the teachers of Humanities and Social Sciences are not behind any other teacher, rather they often bear greater load, as they handle their unnamed and de facto department...

... it is not mandatory that an eminent jurist applying for the post of VC must be a scholar in law as in view of the subjects being taught, and the interdisciplinary thrust of the modern academic thinking this is anachronous.

... based upon merit people who are classified (somewhat arbitrarily) as Non-Law Professors, if given an equal opportunity can do well like their colleagues from the classical fields of law. If we don’t follow this logic then we are somewhat falling into the trap of a thinking akin to the one that believed in a ‘Master Race’, with the modification that if one belongs to the field of Law then that person is inherently superior and can manage to do well in all roles in all institutions whether such institutions teach Law or not, and if we stretch this dangerous argument further, it would mean that people who are not from ‘privileged’ fields suffer from some mysterious handicaps and cannot be equals with Professors of Law.

He also added that a “shroud of secrecy has been maintained to the extent that no information about the whole process is available even to the candidates like the petitioner”.

We have reached out to NLU Delhi for comment.

The Delhi high court in its video conference hearing yesterday said that the petition was premature (see below), since the selection of the committee was with the chancellor at present, and disposed of the application for the time being, declining to issue a stay.

However, the court noted that NLU Delhi’s registrar should forward the Prasannanshu’s “representation before the Chancellor for consideration”.

[documentcloud Copy of writ petition

[documentcloud Delhi HC order

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