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NUJS loses London PhD to NLU-J after bureaucracy dispute post MP Singh

Prabhash Ranjan: Cherishes NUJS, looks forward to Jodhpur
Prabhash Ranjan: Cherishes NUJS, looks forward to Jodhpur
Exclusive: NUJS Kolkata assistant professor Dr. Prabhash Ranjan has joined NLU Jodhpur as associate professor, after a disagreement with the college administration about seniority and increments, as NUJS faculty member and Nalsar and LSE graduate Chinmayi Arun will join NLU Delhi.

Ranjan was on three-year study leave without pay since November 2009 to pursue his PhD at King’s College London and was scheduled to rejoin NUJS in November 2012.

However, on 4 June 2012 he sent the college’s new vice chancellor (VC) Ishwara Bhat a four-page resignation letter, a copy of which was seen by Legally India after it was circulated to a list of NUJS faculty. [Download letter]

According to his letter, the college’s executive council (EC) had, after “lengthy bureaucratic deliberations”, noted in May 2010 that Ranjan had served the college “with distinction” and continued to take an active interest in NUJS while he was at King’s.

The EC had resolved in that meeting that “as per law the seniority and increments of Mr Ranjan shall remain unaffected after he rejoins the office and is confirmed”, of which the former NUJS VC MP Singh had also assured him, according to Ranjan’s resignation.

However, Ranjan claims in his letter that in February 2012 the NUJS registrar’s office told him in writing that on rejoining NUJS in November 2012, he would be on the same pay grade as he was when he left for his PhD in 2009. The college also said that he would have to continue to serve a probation period, which he had been on for 16 months at NUJS before leaving for London. Future increments and seniority would be subject to confirmation of the probation.

Ranjan noted in his resignation: “The very fact that I shall be on probation after joining back, despite having served the University to the best of my ability since 1st November 2007 on all fronts - teaching, research or administrative responsibilities - undermines my honour and self-esteem.

“This would adversely impact my career prospects despite having performed to the best of my ability.” Given the “total uncertainty” about whether his service record would be taken into account, Ranjan said in his letter he was “not left with any other choice” but to resign.

NUJS: No irregularity

NUJS’ registrar Surajit Mukhopadhyay commented: “Prabhash Ranjan resigned while on leave. Once he had joined his dues would have been cleared. He says that it [his basic pay] should be enhanced. I was surprised to hear that.

“He asked for enhancement after the UK. I hold a PhD from the UK. I am a commonwealth scholar, and I went there on a bond for three-and-a-half years, and came back and joined on probation of one year; so I have a personal experience and I am not overawed by his qualifications from the UK.”

Mukhopadhyay told Legally India that Ranjan was due to re-join the university on 1 November 2012 and, according to rules that were followed at all national law universities, only after his re-joining could the vice-chancellor (VC) and the registrar have placed the case for recovery of his dues and monies before the executive council (EC).

Since Ranjan never re-joined, said the registrar, no gross irregularity had taken place.

In the email addressed to his colleagues, Ranjan remarked: “In the name of following technical and bureaucratic rules, the University appears to have completely disregarded my academic and research accomplishments and the commitment that I have shown to my job. I consider this unfortunate, regrettable and heart-breaking!”

Jodhpuri pastures new

Ranjan declined to comment specifically on his resignation when contacted by Legally India but said: “Legal academics in our country do not get the kind of attention they deserve. The traditional mind-set in our law schools is that people who are not good lawyers come to academia; whereas people like me and many others are here by choice.”

He told Legally India that the “forward-looking” attitude of retired judge and NLU VC NN Mathur had influenced his decision to take up the Jodhpur post. “He does not run the place in the traditional conservative way; it is the kind of system we see in the corporate world.”

Mathur said that out of the total 45 faculty presently at NLU Jodhpur, 25 per cent boasted LLM and PhD qualifications from foreign universities. The law faculty comprised of 23 faculty members, teaching both LLB and LLM courses. IP Massey is the college’s senior-most faculty member, with teaching experience of 50 years, followed by V Seshaiah Shastri with 24 years of teaching experience.

The college boasted a full-strength of faculty, said Mathur, but added: “I am constantly on a lookout for good faculty.” Jodhpur’s “continuing process” of faculty-recruitment closely involved the university’s students, with the resumes of potential hires being circulated among the students before decisions were made.

Ranjan had first joined NUJS as an assistant professor in 2007, after nine months as a research assistant at University College London (UCL), and positions as consultant to British non-governmental organisation (NGO) Oxfam, visiting faculty for two years at Indian Law Institute Delhi, and one year as a researcher at CUTS Centre for International Trade Economics and Environment in Jaipur until 2004. He graduated from the Campus Law Centre of the University of Delhi in 2003.

In his resignation letter, he said: “I shall always cherish the time I spent at NUJS, the love and affection of my students and my colleagues and the encouragement and affection of Professor M P Singh. I consider myself fortunate that I got the opportunity to serve NUJS.”

Ranbir calling

NUJS faculty member Chinmayi Arun, who had graduated from Nalsar Hyderabad in 2006 and worked with Ernst & Young and AZB & Partners before completing her LLM at London School of Economics (LSE) in 2009, will join NLU Delhi.

It is understood that her move is not related to Ranjan’s but she was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Click here to download Ranjan’s resignation letter.

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