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“Hope for good days to come”: NUSRL VC BC Nirmal return in limbo as acting VC set to leave • Legal challenge not practical

BC Nirmal speaks about implied pressure and force
BC Nirmal speaks about implied pressure and force

NUSRL Ranchi vice chancellor BC Nirmal has been willing to resume his duties at the law school for more than eight months now during which he has been allegedly forced to stay away from work and has allegedly been denied his salary, emoluments and benefits even though he was not removed from his post but only went on leave, he said.

The Jharkhand high court has not yet allowed him to join again, even though NUSRL acting vice chancellor and Jharkhand Judicial Academy director Gautam Chaudhary is set to be relieved from office at NUSRL on 13 February, Nirmal said.

Nirmal added, however, that because Chaudhary was “enjoying the confidence” of the Jharkhand high court’s judge nominee on the NUSRL executive council (EC), it could eventually result in Chaudhary continuing as acting vice chancellor beyond 13 February.

“The only option available to me is either to wait for more time and hope for good days to come or I tender my resignation,” commented Nirmal.

BC Nirmal
BC Nirmal

Nirmal, who had applied for one month's leave in May following large scale student protests against maladministration at the law school, commented: "I have been put away from the university for more than 8 months. I do not know what they are thinking, whether they want me to come back or not.”

Leave application becomes appointment letter

Nirmal told us yesterday that following the 4-day campus lock-down protests by NUSRL students in April, the law school's chancellor, Jharkhand high court chief justice PK Mohanty advised him to go on leave for a few months.

Following the advice Nirmal filed an application for one month's leave and on that same application Jharkhand high court Justice Apresh Kumar Singh, who is also a member of NUSRL's EC, signed off a recommendation in favor of appointing Chaudhary as acting vice chancellor.

The chancellor approved this recommendation.

“Because I am still vice chancellor all the powers [of VC] are still vested in me,” Nirmal said. “Only thing is in July they informed me not to attempt to join my duties here. There was a lot of pressure on me to tender resignation.”

Pressure to resign

Nirmal said that the “pressure” he mentions came through “implied action” such as the high court stopping the release of rent payments for his accommodation, withdrawing the staff that used to work at his residence, withdrawing the driver of his official vehicle and withdrawing his salary.

“I have written so many letters not only to the high court but also the Supreme Court but till today [I have received] not a penny from the university [since I went on leave],” he lamented.

He said that he met Jharkhand's governor on 4 July for help regarding his grievances. On 5 July he was served a show cause notice asking him why he should be allowed to join his duties despite the fact that he allegedly took no action to avert the student protests, and also given that he had allegedly made improper staff hires at the law school.

Refuting the notice grounds Nirmal told us that the protest was not a legitimate ground to stop him from re-joining and also added: “I engaged [employees] for a paltry sum of Rs 5,000 to Rs 11,000. They are still working there. But that shouldn't be used against me.”

He remarked: “Unless and until they clear the matter and allow me to join how can I come and join. And this is not an appropriate state to go to any court and seek relief because they may say they have not yet taken any action against me - just prevented me from joining. So legal action [by me] is not prudent.”

New acting-VC Chaudhary's track record

Students we spoke to at the time said that they had been aggrieved by the state of faculty recruitment at NUSRL to date and that it was wrong to allow Chaudhary to recruit faculty, as he was not NUSRL's vice chancellor but only an acting head.

We had reported of this dissatisfaction among students in August.

Nirmal commented: “What has ultimately taken place is that two associate professors who were very senior have now become most junior because the posts they were holding have been made contractual. Second, Dr Mitra, who was working as assistant dean and assistant registrar has not been given any opportunity in the university now [since Chaudhary's appointment].”

Nirmal said that during his term as vice chancellor he had been able to save around Rs 23 crore in NUSRL's kitty as the law school is not supported to date by any government grant. He said that the weak finances at NUSRL had always led to administrative problems.

Nirmal has been on leave since 12 April 2017, originally intending to re-join after one month as we had reported in April 2017.

“If a person is a victim of circumstances, the right to speak freely becomes curtailed to an extent,” he noted yesterday.

Chaudhary has not been reachable for comment since yesterday.

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