The student body at NUJS rejoiced after Prof. P. Ishwara Bhat, Vice-Chancellor of WBNUJS tendered his resignation. The resignation was in amidst of a protest which started off passively through social media but later intensified on the morning of 28th Mar’18. This was endeavoured by the Student Juridical Association (SJA)- the student representative body at WBNUJS with support from a few faculty members as well. After an internal review indicating him of maladministration was accessed by the students, they demanded his resignation in a strongly worded statement by 28th Mar’18 and took to the streets as well as social media. The entire protest was broadcasted live on their facebook page “NUJS speaks” where slogans were chanted against the VC in the scorching sun.
The reign of inefficiency as the SJA calls it, can be traced back to 2013 when number of petitions were filed urging the need to examine the falling of the well established academic standards at NUJS. Also during Prof Bhat’s tenure, former Registrar Surajit Chandra Mukhopadhyay was ousted after he was found guilty of mismanagement of University funds. Also, despite various concerns were raised regarding the appointment of faculty members and also the long awaited infrastructure related grievances, Prof Bat got a second term as VC in September 2016. In 2017 the aggravated student body and the alumni of NUJS constituted a Review Commission which was unprecedented for NUJS.
During the protest, the resignation was submitted to the hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra with a no show from the VC at the NUJS campus which was on lock down. The resignation letter was not earnest when the VC stated in the letter that,
“…It has been a great privilege and honour to serve this University which I have done with full sincerity, in accordance with law and to the best of my ability. However due to health and family reasons, I would be unable to serve the University in the capacity of Vice-Chancellor. Therefore, I would like to tender my resignation from the position of the Vice-Chancellor that shall come into effect on April 7th 2018 after the meeting of the Executive Council.” This showed total disregard to the truth and weakling approach as if the allegations of mismanagement and overlooking of complaints relating to sexual harassments and turning a blind eye on such important issues relating to the institutions never happened.
This is not the first time where the students displayed their no-confidence in Prof. Bhat. He was offered the position of Vice-Chancellor at CNLU Patna when the Prof A. Lakshminath tendered his resignation. However, students at CNLU objected the decision, pending the release of the Review Commission report and the students gathered in protest which was called off after receiving reassurances from Chief Justice of Patna High Court.
The protest at NUJS marks the victory of the student body over the inefficient authority. The protest showed a lot of support from the faculty, the alumni, other institutions and NLUs who showed their solidarity highlighting the role and impact the student body and the social media has had in curbing the maladministration of one of the premier law institutions of the country.
The author, Nihit Chauhan is currently pursuing LL.M. (Corporate and Commercial Laws) at Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai.