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NLU Delhi students send RTI, letter to chancellor against opaque ‘snail-paced’ VC appointment to succeed Ranbir Singh

Besides many Covid related decisions, a lot of other vital decisions need to be taken at NLU Delhi, argue the students

NLU Delhi students implore chancellor to push to finalise 9 month VC selection
NLU Delhi students implore chancellor to push to finalise 9 month VC selection

More than 100 NLU Delhi students have sent a letter to NLU Delhi’s chancellor - Delhi high court chief justice Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel - and its visitor - Supreme Court Justice NV Ramana - to accelerate the hunt for a new vice chancellor (VC), which has now taken more than nine months without any obvious idea of the outcome.

The open letter, which was also signed by five NLU Delhi alumni, implores the judges to “intervene” and call to convene the university’s governing council to expedite the process.

The letter stated that “matters have proceeded at a sluggish pace with no transparency” and that “despite multiple attempts by the student body to engage with the selection committee, they have been kept in the dark about the entire process”.

There is no timeline about when a new VC would be appointed, and incumbent and founding VC, Prof Ranbir Singh, is on a temporary one-year extension until 23 September 2020, which is fast approaching.

On top of that, the “avoidable delay” came at a “crucial stage” in NLU Delhi’s history, with decisions needing to be made about how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, which might benefit from having a VC actually see them through and implemented.

According to the students, those decisions include how to graduate the current final batch into the pandemic, any potential fee waivers due to the NLU being in distance education mode, rather than in Delhi), and the upcoming All India Law Entrance Test (AILET) exam, which will be held via online proctoring .

One fourth year student who is a signatory to the letter, Aadarsh Singh, has also filed a Right to Information (RTI) request with the university today, requesting the names of what are believed to be three candidates who have been shortlisted for the VC position (see full text of RTI below).

The RTI asked for:

Please provide the following information under the Right to Information Act 2005 with respect to the Selection Committee constituted in the year 2019 to search for the next Vice-Chancellor of National Law University Delhi:

1. The Selection Committee issued an advertisement dated 11.10.19 to invite applications for the post of Vice-Chancellor. As per records, please provide the name of candidates who applied for the post of Vice-Chancellor in the period 11.10.19 to 11.11.19.

2. As per records, please provide the name of candidates who have been shortlisted by the Selection Committee for the position of Vice-Chancellor of National Law University Delhi.

3. As per records, please provide the minutes of all the meetings of the Selection Committee.

The NLU Delhi VC process has also attracted a writ petition by NLU Delhi English professor Prof (Dr) Prasannanshu, who also alleged that the process has been shrouded in opacity so far.

Full NLU Delhi students' letter to VC

We, the undersigned, write to your kind self in your capacity as the Chancellor of the University. We wish to bring your attention to the pending issue of the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor of the University. As your kind self might be aware, a Selection Committee was constituted way back in September 2019 to look for the next Vice-Chancellor of the University. Applications were invited for the position of Vice-Chancellor through a notification dated 11.10.2019. As per the notification, the deadline for applying for the position of Vice-Chancellor was set as 11.11.2019.

Since the above-mentioned notification, the matters have proceeded at a sluggish pace with no transparency. Despite multiple attempts by the student body to engage with the Selection Committee, they have been kept in the dark about the entire process. Despite the passage of over 9 months since its constitution, there is still no timeline regarding the appointment of the next Vice-Chancellor. The snail-paced process attains all the more importance in light of the fact that as per notification dated 20.07.2018 [attached], the tenure of the present Vice-Chancellor would end on 23rd September 2020.

This avoidable delay in the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor comes at a crucial stage as the institution is faced with multiple decisions involving the interests of the students. Besides formulating the new academic calendar in light of the pandemic, the institution is also faced with key decisions pertaining to the award of course degrees to the graduating Batch of 2020, fee waivers (owing to distance education), smooth conduct of All India Law Entrance Examination (AILET), etc. The administrative delay in the Vice-Chancellor’s appointment is likely to adversely affect the above-mentioned issues.

In light of this, ​we, the undersigned, humbly request you to intervene in this matter and call for a meeting of the Governing Council so that the process of appointment of the Vice-Chancellor can be expedited.

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