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HNLU VC threatens action against protesting students • VC’s grilling in GB meeting now on YouTube

HNLU VC strikes back with open letter, implying possible disciplinary action against studentsHNLU VC strikes back with open letter, implying possible disciplinary action against students

HNLU Raipur vice chancellor (VC) Sukh Pal Singh has sent an open letter to students today saying that “no disciplinary action would be taken against any student” if students call off their resumed silent protests against his reinstatement, after his disqualification by a high court had been stayed by the Supreme Court pending fuller hearings, last week.

Students have continued their protests, one-upping NUJS Kolkata, where students had spell out the letters PIB OUT with students’ bodies standing on the campus lawns, HNLU students spelled a glittering SPS OUT, presumably with cameraphones (see picture below).

Their campaign has also continued to attract some significant attention, similarly to their first round that had eventually been covered by newspapers and national TV news. The Student Bar Association (SBA) tweeted today that “The students of HNLU have lost faith in the incompetent administration of Dr Sukh Pal Singh & his style of arbitrary and discriminatory decision making. Therefore, we are skeptical of him being reinstated to the office of the Vice Chancellor.”

This was retweeted by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who enjoys a sizable following on Twitter, who added: “I know what it is to have my interest in studies destroyed by an incompetent teacher & administrator. I feel sad that a National Law University, named after a great judge is being destroyed by silence on the part of constitutional functionaries, who know where the problem is.”

And parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor tweeted yesterday: “This thread sounds serious. I hope @PrakashJavdekar & his colleagues will look into these complaints. For law students to go on strike is rare. They deserve attention.”

(Though, in all fairness, Tharoor probably does not fully understand exactly how many law students have gone on strike in the last year or two alone.)

HNLU protests against VC Sukh Pal Singh (SPS)HNLU protests against VC Sukh Pal Singh (SPS)

Students unite against VC in general body meeting

In a general body meeting on 25 September, the full video of which has now been uploaded online, students grilled Singh for nearly one-and-a-half hours, questioning him about their current grievances in administration, until handing him the no confidence petition that had been signed by them.

Singh did not respond to our requests for comment but in the video, he said, mostly in Hindi: “These are your thoughts and approach to your actions. To answer your protest of my resignation and your no confidence motion. You haven’t appointed me to be in this designation.

“Thus, I wont be putting down my resignation to satiate your no confidence motion. And it is your decision to be on an indefinite strike or hunger, I cant help it.

“And I want to know why are you doing it? I am working for the past 7 years with this University, and I know each and every staff of this institution.”

Student representatives replied by saying that Singh should have an insight to what the rules and regulations are in a university, including providing data and reports and minutes on its website.

Singh replied: “It is not going to be a loss for you if they aren’t provided. The steps you have taken to malign the university in the recent past, is going to hamper your own future. The university which I put together since the past seven years, you chose to bring upon shame on the national television and that is going to backfire only on you and do no harm to me.”

Students then asked: “Sir, do you mean to say that all the sexual harrassment, casteism, discrimination and discrepancies that are coming up are not maligning our university but because we chose to complain about them to our VC is disgraceful?"

Unsympathetic, Singh responded: “It is not that any action hasn’t been taken. You are making an issue out of a non-issue, there is no remedy for the same. It is not that we are not sensitive to the needs of the complaint.”

His student interlocutor responded: “Sir, request you not to belittle the complaint by saying that we are using the matter of sexual harrassment to make it an issue purposely”

Singh: “I’m not humiliating the complaint in particular but on the overall aspect of the issue. The complaint is a serious matter, which shall be taken care of. I have never said that no inquiry shall take place. The issues which should be corrected, will be. "

The student responded that they would not be budging or negotiating any further about their no confidence motion.

Singh said at that point: “I can’t help your decision of protesting indefinitely. Do whatever you want to. But I will try to solve the issues which seem genuine to me. If they haven’t been done in the past, then I am ready to take it forward from today onwards.

“I repeatedly have said that things which seem correct and ‘genuine’, I have never denied them. Some issues which out of my understanding I thought shouldn’t occur, I have tried to make you understand to my level best, And till today I thought you all were quite intelligent to comprehend whatever I tried to explain.”

“I have never denied anything you have from asked me,” he repeated, then added: “And all these little issues with which you are making a mountain out of a molehill, and coming up to me with, please explain to what extent has any ‘substantial loss’ befallen upon you?"

At that point, one of the student representatives walked up to the dais to present Singh with their no confidence motion. Most students applauded at that point with standing ovations and chanted “not my VC”, despite the student representatives imploring them to keep quiet.

Singh looked on bemused (skip to the 1 hour 27 minute mark in the below video or click here).

After the meeting was called to a close and Singh and his entourage were leaving, one of the students exhorted over the speaker system: “Don’t shout. This will be literally a silent protest”.

He then added, addressing faculty members: “Also if there is any faculty members who wants to support [...] we are truly welcoming them.”

At that point the student body yet again erupted in applause and a standing ovation for nearly a full minute facing around four faculty members who did not leave with Singh.

A truly inspiring moment - click here to view it.

HNLU protests against SPSHNLU protests against SPS

Click to show 25 comments
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By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.
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Like +3 Object -0 Guest 28 Sep 18, 23:45
The decision was not overturned, the SC had passed a stay order. Surely, you know the difference. I request you to make the change, so people are not misinformed.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 28 Sep 18, 23:48 LI subscriber
Thanks for the spot, have clarified the article.
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Like +4 Object -0 Nujs 29 Sep 18, 05:34
I must congratulate the HNLU student body on this bold step. You have truly exposed this person.
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Like +5 Object -7 Guest 29 Sep 18, 11:04  controversial
I was shocked that the GB meeting had to be conducted in Hindi. If a person cannot speak in English he has no right to be appointed the VC of an NLU.
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Like +8 Object -1 Guest 29 Sep 18, 15:26  interesting
While I have no sympathy for the VC, good ideas and ability do transcend any particular language.
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Like +3 Object -4 Well Done 29 Sep 18, 11:16
Of all the protests conducted at NLUs, this one has been the best. The VC was exposed on camera, various public figures tweeted, the Congress Party Chattisgarh Unit and the state Bar Council released official statements, and major media outlets covered it. This VC will never get a job elsewhere. This contrasts with NLIU, NUJS, CNLU and NLU Assam, where the students did not plan that well. At CNLU there are still hurdles in terms of governance and administration. In the case of NUJS and NLU Assam the ousted VCs were soon rewarded with VCships elsewhere. At NUJS, the protests just lasted for a day and the students meekly agreed to the VC leaving on his own terms. Perhaps only NLIU has seen some improvement. Other NLUs should learn from HNLU and make a strategy like them before protesting.
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Like +8 Object -0 Aam Admi 30 Sep 18, 17:09  interesting
Can we avoid doing a who protested better competition.
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Like +3 Object -1 Student. 29 Sep 18, 11:34
Hats off to HNLU students! As LI says, the moment where everyone stands up and shouts NOT MY VC and SP Singh is stunned is truly a moment of inspiration. I won't be surprised if this sets off a trend at other NLUs.

Another interesting moment in the video is at 1:06 or so, when it is revealed that the VC refused to invite people who the students wanted for guest lectures and instead insisted of inviting SS Singh and Ishwar Bhat (the two most corrupt VCs). In this regard, Shamnad Basheer has tweeted today and said: " I’ve never seen a more dishonest VC! (Though Ishwara Bhat might give him stiff competition on this count)."
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 29 Sep 18, 15:29
Hope this protest has resonance beyond the NLUs. Most Indian institutes of learning are in shambles, mostly because of incompetent, dictatorial, egoistic and useless administrators.
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Like +9 Object -0 Nujs1 29 Sep 18, 15:10  interesting
I think the current acting VC of NUJS is going to face this kind of protest soon.
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Like +1 Object -4 Guest 29 Sep 18, 15:41
In your dreams.
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Like +4 Object -5 Advocate, Delhi HC 29 Sep 18, 21:54
NLUs have been a big disappointment. Except NLS Bangalore, Nalsar and NLU Delhi, all other so called NLUs are neither 'national' in character nor deserve to be called 'university' by any means. They are just small law colleges with a hostel. Most are mediocre and sub standard. Some could be just okay or at best 'decent'. Government should focus on law faculty of Delhi University which imparts almost free education and of much better quality than these so called law universities.
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Like +7 Object -0 Guest 29 Sep 18, 22:19  interesting
What exactly is the so-called national character that is there in the three places that you speak of? NALSAR if I remember correctly even has domicile reservation of its own. However, the students of most of the NLUs do come from all over the country, though there is a lack of social diversity, of course. Infrastructure-wise, apart from NLUD, rest really don't show any upward improvement curve. NLUD has been trying to at least get its priorities right in terms of research and funding that is needed to move along with time. The biggest test for it would be to sustain this once Ranbir Singh leaves. We have seen earlier how a promising NLU plunges into the abyss owing to the lack of a good VC, like NUJS did after MP Singh. I do agree with your last statement at least in part. I would rather suggest each state should provide adequate financial support to each NLU so that their fees can be subsidised for the deserving students and seats can be increased and good NLU grads are in turn encouraged to teach along with practising by amending the archaic Advocates Act.
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Like +2 Object -4 Advocate, Delhi HC 30 Sep 18, 22:32
Every NLU charges fee in the range of 2-4 lakh per year. Rs. 10-20 lakhs for 5 year law degree. How many families in India can afford this fee? Seems NLU started only for rich and for judges and lawyers children. University must be for common people. DU fee for LLB can is hardly 10,000 per year. Anybody can afford to study and become a lawyer or judge. NLU is a failed and useless model. And against the principles of equality and justice.
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Like +5 Object -0 Guest 30 Sep 18, 23:08  interesting
Are you daft? DU charges that fee because the government already subsidizes it. Otherwise, calculate the total student fees for a year for DU and see whether it is enough to pay even half the teachers there the cushy 7th CPC salary that they get. Every institution of repute in this country that does not get adequate funding from the State will have to necessarily charge high fees. There is no other way to pay for talented people and infrastructure. The IITs and IIMs get so much funding and even then they end up charging much, much more than other state-sponsored engineering or management institutes. To make university for 'common people', it is the common people who will have to elect suitable representatives, who will in turn invest public money in education so that it becomes accessible to all. Failed and useless model indeed! NLUs are still where anybody who can afford, goes. Can you show me people who can actually afford to study at NLUD, but have instead chosen to study at DU 5 Year course? The solution therefore is to make the NLUs affordable by state sponsorship, not go back to the archaic syllabus or methodology of the traditional universities.
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Like +1 Object -1 Cushy salary? 01 Oct 18, 05:57
Cushy? Really? If I have to present even one paper at a conference abroad, the tickets alone (for anywhere in North America) eat into more than a month's salary.

If I have to enroll in a PhD program abroad or even a single year's masters, even with a substantial scholarship I have to take a huge loan and use every bit of 3 to 4 years savings from my cushy salary.

If I have a young family and my partner is also an academic; finding teaching jobs or research position at an institution we both want to be associated with, in the same city, (unless it is Delhi) is literally impossible. Living on campus in age-old accommodation is pretty much the only option for us that makes financial sense. However, in this scenario we are cut out from most of the activities, academic and recreational, in the city.

... and god forbid we think about starting a family! The expenses pile on.

In all of this, there is literally no budget for any holiday that we may afford that those who studied with us in these very institutions can go for on a moment's notice.

Yes, education in these institutions is not cheap. The fault lies in the poor central funding, and the lack of any support at the state level. Kindly do not level this charge at our doorsteps.
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 01 Oct 18, 12:55
@Cushy Salary: Apologies if that came across as against the teachers, it was not my intention. The salary we pay to competent teachers in this country at most of the government or autonomous institutions is certainly not enough by any means, though it has improved considerably than it used to be even 10 years back. The places following state government pay scale are even worse off. It's true that a huge number of incompetent and undeserving teachers are also being paid the same salary, but that is not the fault of the competent ones. My original point was with regard to the considerable expenditure that the universities have to bear even at this juncture, which cannot possibly be sustained without state assistance.
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Like +3 Object -1 Guest 30 Sep 18, 23:15
Dude, that 10k fees is because DU is already heavily subsidized. Are you high or have you got your degree via a correspondence course as not to understand that simple a fact? A pity people like you end up advising clients in courts these days, assuming you are what you say you are.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 01 Oct 18, 00:35
Completing a degree via a legitimate correspondence course requires a tremendous amount of discipline. Certainly more than what is required for a traditional course. I doubt that the author of comment 7.1.1 has acquired their degree through that route. Agree with you on the rest of the contents of your comment.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 2 30 Sep 18, 16:57
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Like +1 Object -0 From Shamirpet 30 Sep 18, 17:03
The courage of the students to stand up against the system and fight for their rights (justice)in such a peaceful and graceful manner was a treat to watch. A fine reflection of democratic values amidst difficult times. Hope the issue is resolved soon and if needed the protest continues in the same manner.

Dr. Sukhpal as you have done so much for the institution in these last so many years, why do you hesitate to do one more thing- please respect the democratic will. The students will be grateful to you for ever, they will love you. Your approach is causing harm to your reputation only.

Agreed that students did not appoint you- but remember "RAJA WO NAHI HOTA HAI JO SINHASAN PAR BAITHTA HAI, RAJA WO HOTA HAI JO APANI PRAJA KE MAN KE SINHASAN PAR BAITHTA HAI." This was in monarchy and now its democracy.


raat bhar ka hai mehman andhera Kiske roke ruka hai savera,

raat jitani bhi sangeen (dark) hogi subah utani hi rangeen hogi

gam na kar jo hai badal ghanera, kiske roke ruka hai savera..
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Like +3 Object -0 Well wisher 30 Sep 18, 21:47
There are no easy ways. But a pattern is emerging wherein NLUs facing student agitation are offered interim administration led by retired HC judges (eg. CNLU and NUJS) or serving judicial officers parachuted on deputation/additional charge (NLU Ranchi and recently HNLU) HNLU student association should contact their counterparts in Patna, Ranchi and Kolkata to have an assessment on how that arrangement has worked out thus far. The interim VCs are mostly lackeys of the state or the party in power. The judiciary itself from the highest to the lowest levels are severely compromised. The targets are people looking to secure post retirement options or elevation to the bench. Also do not be swayed by a VC or someone foregoing remuneration. There are no free lunches in this world and generosity is also a form of power. Albeit belatedly but Noojies know that very well now. Be careful when you are handed down an interim administration. Set an expiry date (three months max) for the interim administration. And don't step off the pedal till you see through the process. Evicting the interloper Dukhpal is just the beginning.
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Like +5 Object -0 Noojie 30 Sep 18, 23:12  interesting
Speaking for NUJS, it is working miserably. It is more or less anarchy here now and barring a few student initiatives, NOTHING positive has happened in the recent months. I won't say it is as bad as PIB's time, not because it would be false, but because it would actually put me into depression to consider that regime as a benchmark of anything. Can't say for the other places.
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 30 Sep 18, 23:44
LOL! just look at the video.
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 01 Oct 18, 02:24
NLU students urgently need to unite and go on a one-day hunger strike. Only then will the useless law minister and HRD minister wake up. A good date for the protest could be 26 November (celebrated every year as National Law Day, to mark the year the Constitution was adopted).
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