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No comment from Sudhir on Faizan charge: NLS violated own Act by skipping Acad Council sign off on Claxit

The NLS Act spells out fairly explicitly that the AC, not the EC, is responsible for admissions tests
The NLS Act spells out fairly explicitly that the AC, not the EC, is responsible for admissions tests

NLSIU Bangalore may have violated its own establishing act by launching the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) admissions test without getting the sign-off of the academic council (AC), which we understand has not met since February of this year.

An authoritative NLSIU source told us that to the best of their knowledge, the AC last convened in February and at which point there had been no thought yet about NLSIU leaving the CLAT.

The issue was first raised publicly by Nalsar Hyderabad vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Faizan Mustafa, who has been a vocal critic of NLS’ decision to exit the CLAT and boot up the NLAT.

The reason this may turn out to be important is that under section 13(1)(g) and (h) of the National Law School of India Act 1986, which established India’s first national law university, the executive council (EC) of NLSIU needs the “prior concurrence” of the AC to make any regulation affecting “mode of enrolment or admission of students” and “examinations to be recognised as equivalent to school examinations” (see screenshot of Act above).

However, in its notification announcing that it was leaving the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and creating the NLAT, NLSIU had only mentioned the EC.

The AC is conspicuous by its absence:

This matter [the delays in the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT)] was considered at length at a Faculty Meeting at the University on August 6th, 2020 where the Faculty unanimously resolved that NLSIU needed to take all measures necessary to avoid a ‘Zero Year.’

The Executive Council of the University, at its 91st Meeting held in two sessions on 12th August 2020 and 18th August 2020 met to consider the matter and unanimously resolved to authorize the University to develop an alternative admissions process in the event that CLAT 2020 was not conducted on September 7th 2020.

Despite apparently “unanimous” agreement from faculty members to “take all measures to avoid a ‘Zero Year’“, the AC at NLS is larger than just its 12 faculty members, and also includes five Supreme Court judges and four Bar Council of India (BCI) members, as well as one advocate of the Karnataka high court (see full list below).

The EC includes six different Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice of India (CJI), eight different bar council members, including chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, two Karnataka government representatives from the education and law departments, and five other NLS faculty members.

And while the EC at many national law universities has significant powers over the other bodies, section 13 explicitly states that the EC “shall not make any regulation affecting the status, powers... of any authority of the School until such authority has been given an opportunity of expressing an opinion in writing on the proposed changes”.

It is not clear if that has taken place.

The vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy and the registrar Prof Sarasu Thomas are the only members who are part of both the AC and the EC.

Both of them and the university declined to confirm and respond to questions such as when the last AC meeting took place, whether it was legal within the Act to decide to hold the NLAT without EC approval, despite repeated requests for comment since Monday (7 September).

Mustafa had first made the points in an article on LiveLaw and in a YouTube video (in Hindi, at around the 3 minute mark). In the LiveLaw article, he stated:

In fact under Section 13(1)(g) of NLSIU Act, Executive Council cannot make any regulation on the ‘enrollment or admission’(emphasis added) to NLSIU without the ‘prior concurrence’(emphasis added) of the Academic Council.

NLSIU has not stated in its notification of NLAT that Executive Council in its meetings of August 12 and 13 was acting on the recommendation of its Academic Council. The legality of Executive Council’s decision for going ahead with NLAT without Academic Council’s recommendation/ prior concurrence may be raised by the affected students.

So far, NLSIU has provided no answers to these questions.

NLSIU academic council members

1 Hon’ble Mrs.Justice Indu Malhotra Judge, Supreme Court of India

2 Hon’ble Mr. Justice Vineet Saran Judge, Supreme Court of India

3 Hon’ble Mr.Justice Sanjiv Khanna Judge, Supreme Court of India

4 Hon’ble Mr.Justice Bhushan R Gavai Judge Supreme Court of India

5 Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ajjikuttira S. Bopanna Judge Supreme Court of India

6 Shri. Sunil Gupta Member, Bar Council of India

7 Shri.Desh Raj Sharma Member, Bar Council of India

8 Shri.D K Sharma Member, Bar Council of India

9 Shri.Vishnu Vardhan Reddy Member, Bar Council of India

10 Shri Aruna Shyam M, Advocate, High Court of Karnataka

11 Prof.(Dr.) Sudhir Krishnaswamy Vice Chancellor

12 Prof.(Dr.) Sarasu Esther Thomas, Professor of Law & Registrar, NLSIU

13 Prof.(Dr.) V. Nagaraj Professor of Law, NLSIU

14 Prof.(Dr.) M.K. Ramesh Professor of Law, NLSIU

15 Prof. (Dr.) T. Ramakrishna Professor of Law, NLSIU

16 Prof. (Dr.) Ashok R. Patil Professor of Law, NLSIU

17 Prof.(Dr.) T. S. Somashekar Professor of Economics, NLSIU

18 Prof.(Dr.) Sairam Bhat Professor of Law, NLSIU

19 Prof. Babu Mathew Resident Professor, NLSIU

20 Prof. P.R. Chandrasekharan Chair Professor, NLSIU

21 Shri. Rahul Singh Associate Professor, NLSIU

22 Dr.Nagarathna A. Associate Professor, NLSIU

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