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Gujarat National Law University is no stranger to whimsical rule making. Just earlier this year, GNLU made amendments to its GNLU Regulations in February but chose not to reveal the change to the student body till May 2016. 

However the delagated legislation which this article is about is the "The Internship & Placement Division Rules, 2014." This extremely comprehensive set of Rules is available on the GNLU website here and these rules govern the entire mechanism of internships and placements at GNLU.

There is much to be appreciated about the methodical and transparent manner in which these rules lay down the processes of appointment and working of the Committee on Recruitment Affairs. However, funnily enough, these rules also lay down in mandatory terms ("shall") how students must dress at internships. See the screenshot of the relevant rules below. Pay close attention to Rule 85 and Rule 87(a). -


Unusually Specific Dress Code

So to summarise Rule 85, it lays down that at internships -

  1. Ordinarily, student must wear white shirt, black trousers and formal black shoes with black/blue formal socks while blazer is optional.
  2. If any organisation allows shirts of other colours, other coulors may be worn but they must be plain business formal shirts.
  3. If an organisation has casual day then plain polo tshirts with jeans or trousers can be worn along with sport shoes and socks that are longer than ankle length!

Unnecessary Specificity and Mandatory Tone

Firstly, each organisation where students may intern can and in many cases will enforce its own dress code upon the students. It is thus entirely unnecessary for the University to lay down a specific dress code for students while they are at internships. The dress code if required to be stated at all, could have been stated as a generic guideline rather than using mandatory language of "Every student or alumni shall ..." If it had been a guideline, the drafters could also have saved the time spent in unnecessarily specifying scenarios of casual dress days and places allowing non-white wear. Last but not the least, the dress code is also irrational. There is no basis for specifying that even on casual dress days, socks must be such that they are longer than ankle length.

Women Out of Sight? Non-legal internships?

Despite drafting such a specifc Dress Code, GNLU has come up with a dress code that completely ignores the its female students. The dress code makes no provision for females to wear salwar kammez or saree though most workplaces and even the courts allow female lawyers to wear salwar kammez or saree. Furthermore, by mandating wearing of trousers (and trousers/jeans on casual days) the dress code effectively prohibits female students from wearing skirts or dresses to internships. It is sad that even while spending time and effort on laying down a specific and detailed dress code for students at internships, GNLU administration could not be bothered to consider the interests of its female students.

Furthermore, many students at GNLU as well as other law schools, do intern in non-legalwork related workplaces as well. There is no rational reason why a person interning with a newspaper or an NGO should be made subject to such a formal dress code. As per these rules even such students who are interning at places where informal dressing is the norm would be subject to this formal dress code since it applies regardless of whether the internship is obtained through GNLU Internship & Placement Division or otherwise.

Gossiping Prohibited

Rule 87(a) of the Rules (see screenshot above) also prohibits students from misbehaviour including defaming the University with co-interns and other staff.

If the Rule refers to actual defamation as understood in law, it need not have been made as a rule at all.  In India defamation remains a civil wrong and unfortunately (owing to Supreme Court's recent missed attempt at decriminalisation) also a criminal offence. Thus GNLU has remedy against persons seeking to defame GNLU even without prohibiting defamation specifically in the internship rules.

What this rule does do is create a chilling effect on students, who if they have read the rules will be worried that discussing negative aspects of their university might invite university disciplinary action. Many students might possibly be worried about what definition of defamatory speech GNLU would adopt and thus refrain from talking about the university at all.


Universal Jurisdiction: All time GNLU favourite

Over the years, GNLU has experimented with universal jurisdiction several times. GNLU old timers and alumni often talk about a 2012 email in which the GNLU Director informed the students that GNLU prohibits smoking in and out of the GNLU campus with anyone found smoking outside the campus also being subject to GNLU disciplinary action. (Whether such email actual existed is not confirmed. The rumour may or maynot be true.)

However, GNLU's The Internship & Placement Division Rules, 2014 take the concept of Universal Jurisdiction to a whole new level. While enforcing GNLU dress code on students while they intern is itself slightly stretching the jurisdiction, the rules go a step beyond and make it applicable on the alumni who are interning too! (Read first line of Rule 85 in the screenshot above.)

The extension of these rules to persons who are no longer associated in GNLU is not restricted to alumni as stated in Rule 85 alone. Rule 1 makes the entire document applicable to not just students but also to students who have passed out and furthermore, shockingly enough, to students who have been rusticated or have left the university for any other reason as well.



Lack of clarity on implementation

To be fair to GNLU, students who  Lawschoolleaks communicated with, said that these rules have never been strictly enforced. Rule 1(e) states that "They shall come into force on the day as specified in the official notification taken out by the Gujarat National Law University." Since GNLU has no Gazette like system for formal notification, there is no way to even confirm whether they have been notified or brought into force. Please comment if you have some proof of notification of these rules.

However, the downside of the lack of clarity regarding enforcment is that even all the good rules about Committee of Recruitment Affairs and its structures may not always be adhered to. Furthermore, every usually unenforced rule or law in the world, promotes possible abuse of power. The administration be it at GNLU or any other place which has usually-unenforced laws, by definition retains the power to suddenly selectively enforce it on specific targetted individuals who may not be expecting it to be enforced or who maybe unaware of them being subject to it.

While there is no evidence of any use or misuse of these rules, GNLU should consider either formally notifying them and enforcing them stricty or repealing them entirely or better still, enforcing them after amending and removing the unusual dress code.

Problem of lack of consultation

GNLU like several other law schools lacks an effective body of elected student representatives who can liason with the administration. Furthermore, most if not all rules at GNLU are made without any prior consultation with the student body. Lawschools and their rulemaking could be far better if lawschools first notified draft rules, called for student and alumni feedback and only then made final rules. This way the standard of rules could be improved drastically. Lawschoolleaks hopes that one day this wishful thinking becomes reality.


Note: This article is entirely true. These rules exist. In the past Lawschoolleaks has published niche legal science fiction and satire. However, this post is not fictional. It is entirely true.

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