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On a roll: Following earlier victory, CNLU students now win expedited resignation of registrar with another protest

The initial CNLU protests that stalled Bhat’s appointment, reconvene
The initial CNLU protests that stalled Bhat’s appointment, reconvene

CNLU Patna students reconvened again, after the suspension of their protests against Ishwara Bhat’s appointment as vice-chancellor (VC) of the law school, to push for the removal of the law school’s registrar this weekend.

The students resumed their campus lock down protest on Friday night, 16 days after they had suspended it only to call it off on Saturday after one day, following the expedition of registrar SP Singh’s resignation.

Singh has not been reachable for comment by phone message and call.

Singh’s removal was one of their demands from CNLU’s administration, in addition to obtaining a stay on the appointment of former NUJS vice chancellor (VC) Prof Ishwara Bhat as CNLU’s new VC.

Their other demands are:

  • To abolish the chair for ancient jurisprudence which was created for the now retired ex-CNLU VC Dr A Lakshminath, who is 76 years old. He was allegedly set to preside over as chair professor even after his retirement and the end of his term as VC at the law school. A student source at the law school told us that the chair was created with funds from CNLU and two of the five members who had signed off on its creation were Lakshminath and the registrar Singh.
  • To conduct an audit on the law school. CNLU has never once had a financial audit since it admitted its first batch of students in 2006, whereas such audits are in order every financial year.
  • To have greater transparency regarding the usage of the law school’s funds by the administration, including through the formation of CNLU’s first university review commission. The law school should have been reviewed twice by now, as per statute, but the first such commission is already seven years overdue.

Retired high court justice Mridula Mishra, whose appointment as the acting vice chancellor (VC) at the law school assuaged the protesting students into suspending their protest on 20 March, asked Singh to resign on Saturday 7 April so that the students would call off their resumed protest.

Students told us that Singh has now resigned and a faculty member at CNLU was acting as the registrar for the time being, even though the students are yet to see a notification about the resignation of Singh.

Students also told us that they have not yet been notified about a stay on the appointment order of Bhat or the formation of a new search committee to resume the hunt for Lakshminath’s successor, but they have assumed that Bhat will not be coming to CNLU since he had faced continuing protests at CNLU and NUJS, eventually resulting in his resignation at NUJS, as we had reported last weekend.

They also told us that since retired Justice Mishra - an outsider - has already been appointed as the acting VC, chances are slim that CNLU is still considering letting Bhat join as VC.

Mishra, who is a retired high court judge does not meet the minimum eligibility requirement to become permanent VC, according to the CNLU Act (experience as a professor for at least 10 years).

But students told us that her mandate was to continue as acting VC until she submitted a report to the chancellor with findings about the maladministration at CNLU and the persons responsible for it.

Lakshminath’s term as VC expired at CNLU on 19 March, after he was already one year older than the permitted age to work. The CNLU Act had been amended during his term to increase the retirement age from 70 to 75.

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