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NUJS students give VC Bhat ultimatum: Resign now for being ‘undemocratic’, ‘despotic’, ‘incompetent’, or face protests with ‘academic integrity’, memes

NUJS students get creative in protest with ‘academic integrity’
NUJS students get creative in protest with ‘academic integrity’

NUJS Kolkata vice chancellor (VC) Prof Ishwara Bhat, who has been impeded since last week from joining CNLU Patna as VC by protesting CNLU students, is now facing an ultimatum by the NUJS student body to resign from NUJS this week.

NUJS students vowed to ensure the appointment of a “suitable” VC when they met yesterday night in the NUJS Student Juridical Association’s (SJA) general body meeting, according to the SJA’s press statement published hosted on the SJA subdomain of the nujs.edu website.

We have sent Bhat a message seeking comment.

According to the statement, which follows the revelation on Saturday of the erstwhile buried report of NUJS’ first ever review commission:

The report shows he is [...], nepotistic, undemocratic and despotic, incapable, and incompetent. Our lived experiences show how several of us have been victims of his blatant casteism and continued inaction against sexual harassment. The hallmarks of his tenure have been three no-confidence motions, stagnation and regression of academic culture, evasiveness and shirking responsibility, destruction of all meaningful engagement with stakeholders and deliberate repression of their voices. His selfishness and indifference towards the institution is exhibited by his years of efforts to delay the constitution of the long-overdue review commission and his attempt to again evade responsibility by seeking appointment at CNLU (Patna) on receipt of the report from the Hon’ble Chancellor.

and that:

Resultantly, we demand Prof. Bhat’s resignation on grounds of his proven incapacity and moral culpability by 9.00 AM on March 28, 2018 (Wednesday).

To push this demand, NUJS students have gone on a “passive” protest starting today, during which they will attend classes and engage with faculty on their views about the report. But the SJA adds in the statement:

In the highly likely scenario that he does not resign by the stipulated deadline, our protest shall become more active and vigorous.

However, under no circumstances, shall we be compromising on our academic integrity. To that end, we will be appearing for our mid-semester tests, submitting our project papers and requesting faculty to reschedule our classes so as to not jeopardise our constitutional and educational rights.

In course of our protest, we shall not be obstructing the right to work of any faculty or staff member.

Anonymous students created a Facebook page for the protests on Friday, under the name “NUJS Speaks” and has been updating it with posts about “irredeemable administrative inefficiency” and protest pictures under the handle #Notmyvc since then.

Full NUJS SJA press statement, via SJA official website:

Notice: Because You Never Did

When the law school project was founded, it was envisaged to standardise legal education and nurture a generation of social engineers. A proud constituent of this project, NUJS was established to stand for uncompromising integrity, core constitutional values, excellence, innovation and opportunity.

To act as a mirror to this institution, a review commission is mandated every five years. Yet, this right was denied to our institution for over thirteen years. It is a testament to half a decade of our struggle that gaining access to the first-ever, statutorily mandated review of a public university was considered a success in itself. As we flipped through the report, we saw the rise and the subsequent downfall. The report depicts the abject failure of this institution to uphold its core values in the recent years under the tenure of the incumbent Vice Chancellor, Prof. (Dr.) P. Ishwara Bhat.

Prof. Bhat’s tenure utterly betrays all of our shared values. The report shows he is [...], nepotistic, undemocratic and despotic, incapable, and incompetent. Our lived experiences show how several of us have been victims of his blatant casteism and continued inaction against sexual harassment. The hallmarks of his tenure have been three no-confidence motions, stagnation and regression of academic culture, evasiveness and shirking responsibility, destruction of all meaningful engagement with stakeholders and deliberate repression of their voices. His selfishness and indifference towards the institution is exhibited by his years of efforts to delay the constitution of the long-overdue review commission and his attempt to again evade responsibility by seeking appointment at CNLU (Patna) on receipt of the report from the Hon’ble Chancellor. Unsurprisingly, NUJS suffers from large scale mismanagement and administrative failure today.

The recent protests and unrest at NUSRL (Ranchi), RMLNLU (Lucknow), NLIU (Bhopal), and CNLU (Patna) point to a larger systematic problem in the structure and working of National Law Universities – lack of accountability owing to their highly centralised nature. Despite reaching out to Executive Council and past Chancellors over the last few years, we have been unable to ascertain accountability in this broken system. Eternal vigilance has proven to be the price of our liberty. Having exhausted all institutional remedies, it has become imperative for us, the students, to fill the lacuna created due to the absence of an effective accountability mechanism.

Last night, an overwhelming majority of the Student Juridical Association in its General Body meeting vowed to ensure the appointment of a suitable Vice Chancellor. Neither can Prof. Bhat rectify his colossal failure nor give back our seven years of lost opportunities. Resultantly, we demand Prof. Bhat’s resignation on grounds of his proven incapacity and moral culpability by 9.00 AM on March 28, 2018 (Wednesday).

Despite having little hope given our experience with him so far, our plan of action shall be to initially mark our protest passively. We will be attending classes and engaging with faculty about their views on the report starting today.

In the highly likely scenario that he does not resign by the stipulated deadline, our protest shall become more active and vigorous. However, under no circumstances, shall we be compromising on our academic integrity. To that end, we will be appearing for our mid-semester tests, submitting our project papers and requesting faculty to reschedule our classes so as to not jeopardise our constitutional and educational rights. In course of our protest, we shall not be obstructing the right to work of any faculty or staff member.

Simultaneously, we shall be reaching out to all our Executive Council members and our Hon’ble Chancellor who had been waiting for the report to fix accountability and remedy the situation.

In these testing times, we look forward to support for our cause.

Read anonymous student summary of the NUJS review commission report (PDF)

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