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Revealed: The critical BCI report on NUJS mismanagement that's lain buried for 9 months

NUJS: Cobwebs and closet skeleton
NUJS: Cobwebs and closet skeleton

A Bar Council of India (BCI)-led “fact finding body” produced a critical report in November 2013 on NUJS Kolkata’s affairs.

However, to most intents and purposes, the 224-page report has been buried by the administration since then.

Headlines

The report concluded that the law school was short of at least 10 teachers, including four professors, and asked NUJS to “make fresh recruitment of faculty staff including some senior Professors”, and to design “short credit courses” instead of full courses, to enable the university to invite more visiting faculty.

The body also found other gaps in the running of the law school, including “awfully bad” maintenance of administrative records, power factions in the faculty leading to a lack of coordination between the administration and the faculty body, irregularities in employment and inadequate examination rules.

It advised that it was “high time” the chancellor constituted a University Review Commission (URC) which was pending since May 2010.

Signed by BCI members Ashok Kumar De (also an NUJS executive council member), RG Shah and the BCI’s Legal Education Committee member Dr NL Mitra, the body also suggested setting up a BCI special committee for National Law University affairs in general. The committee could be comprised of a retired Supreme Court judge, an academic of high repute, a lawyer of high repute and the BCI’s chairman.

It advised the NUJS executive council to constitute a “strong committee to examine past records and faculty members’ grievances” and to decide on the matter of a former employee who had alleged unfair summary dismissal from the university. It also advised the vice chancellor (VC) to formulate rules and a “best practice code” for faculty meetings and decisions.

“Suppressed” report

Student and faculty sources at NUJS claimed the administration made no effort to make them aware of the report, and even “suppressed” it from those who found out about its existence and filed Right to Information (RTI) applications seeking to unearth it.

One faculty member said: “We were interviewed by the BCI members like Professor NL Mitra and some other persons were there. Professor Mitra was heading the committee. We were asked about all the problems that NUJS was facing at the moment. But the document hasn’t been made public. The BCI report was received by the VC last year during the month of November and the EC [meeting] was held thereafter. And the EC has been demanding to see that report but he has not shown it.

“That report has been suppressed. RTIs have been filed but there has been no response either from the BCI or from the university.”

NUJS vice chancellor Ishwara Bhatt commented: “I have submitted an application to the chief justice asking for the constitution of the University Review Commission. It is for him to decide [by when it will be constituted].”

He told Legally India that 8 faculty in both law and social sciences were hired by NUJS since November, and that the law school was “waiting for specific suggestion from the BCI” on how to give justice to the former employee who had alleged unfair treatment.

“We have taken all the appropriate measures, I cannot share any detail,” he said.

An April 2014 report by a committee led by former Rajasthan high court chief justice NN Mathur found evidence indicative of financial mismanagment of funds at NUJS, as reported by Legally India last week. That report had been shared with the student body by the student council.

In 2012, a report on mismanagement at Nalsar Hyderabad had been buried in the then-vice chancellor’s office for four months.

On “grossly inadequate” teaching staff

The body noted that the currently present number of 22-23 teachers at NUJS was not enough to meet the “hunger of a modern student”, and that the number was such because “the University did not have adequate and proactive leave policy and faculty deployment planning”.

The body made the following observations:

“[…] the allegation of the students that there were inadequate numbers of faculty members in the University and in each vertical/department of knowledge was very right.”

“[…] about 1/4th of the faculty strength at a given time was been found to be on leave including study leave […]”

“To tell the truth with 22-23 faculties one can think only of managing a Law College with definitive program without any specialization. It could not be a University. Naturally hunger of a modern student could hardly be met.”

“In fact the University would require at least additional faculty of 2 to 3 in Social Science (at least 1 in Economics), and 7 to 8 in various branches of Law especially 2 in Criminal administration of Justice, one in Procedural law and legal aid (preferable a retired District Judge), 1 in International Trade Law, 1 in Taxation including International Taxation, 2 in Business Law and 1 in Banking & Insurance. The University would require at least 10 devoted faculty members (of whom at least 5 dedicated professors) to run one year LLM. That being the minimum requirement under UGC guidelines.”

“The Committee noticed that the University did not have required number of Professors. According to UGC Rules also there has to be at least five Professors. But there were only two Professors including the Vice Chancellor. As a matter of fact there was only one regular Professor. The cadre Professor was on lien and left to take charge of ILI Delhi. Other two Chair Professors have their chair commitment if any. One of course was on long leave.”

“It would also show that the university could not open its basket of optional courses and specialized papers because it would not have simple “numbers” both quantity as well as quality-wise, of teachers to take up responsibility. Even in conventional branches of law, like criminal law, civil law, personal law, international law and such others, the university was not in a position to afford presently more than a single position. With one criminal law faculty host of specialized courses such as juvenile justice, IT offences, […etc.] could not be taken up. With one corporate law faculty one would not be able to think to run specialized courses on corporate finance, […etc…] The university did not have any faculty on Banking and Insurance. Naturally, students have the reason to feel suffocated due to paucity of adequate teaching staff. It is in this context, the University would better design short credit courses and ask students to take total so many credit instead of full courses of 4 credit each. That would enable the University to invite more visiting faculty.”

“The strength of the faculty for social science was grossly inadequate especially in Economics.”

“So the Committee found the grievances of the students to be quite justified. Committee would urge upon the LEC of the BCI to direct the University authority to redress these grievances by making fresh recruitment of faculty staff including some senior Professors, keeping in view the requirements.”

Other areas of mismanagement

The fact finding body said that there was evidence indicating that there was a sentiment in the faculty body that favouritism was being practiced at the law school, that there were “clear cases” of irregular employments being made at NUJS, and that maintenance of service records and other records at the law school was abysmal.

It made the following observations:

“There was a strong feeling among faculty members that some faculty members would always like to remain closer to the center to the power and were always favored.”

“The Committee strongly felt that in the absence of regular and timely meetings of the Faculty in which Faculty members could very freely exchange views and could review actions and resolutions of academic management perspectives in a seamless operation of flow of academic administration, this divisions and sub divisions would remain and that would injure the homogeneity of the faculty and administration.”

“At least two clear cases were presented in which there were evidences of some gross deviation from normal practices relating to selection of academic staff an pay protection (or denial thereof) by concerned faculty members in their oral presentations.”

“It was revealed that maintenance of records and including service records and other administrative records were awfully bad and the statutory rules were also not observed willfully.”

The body took note of recent bad publicity NUJS garnered in the media through an allegation sexual harassment of a staff member and an incident of a faculty member slapping a student, and stated in its report:

“These incidents must be administered with a very strong hand. The Committee was concerned with the present indiscipline and absence self-restraint. The Committee urges the EC to examine all matters of administrative lapses and also deal with those who indulged in indiscipline either openly or through media […]”

Full main body of report (excluding annexures)

Editor's note: We are working on analysing and scanning the voluminous annexures and hope to publish parts of these in future.

NUJS Kolkata Fact Finding Committee constituted by the BCI

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