In the wake of the fake degree scandal, National Law Institute University (NLIU Bhopal) has taken a decision to rationalise the number of courses offered as part of the undergraduate programme.
60 subjects will now be taught to students of the five-year BA.LLB. programme over the course of 15 trimesters. Previously, students were required to pass 74 subjects, apart from the electives, to obtain a degree.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, NLIU Bhopal Vice-Chancellor Prof V Vijayakumar said that the initiative was taken in the interests of the student body.
The five-year course at NLIU Bhopal will now be similar to the trimester system at the oldest NLU, National Law School of India University (NLSIU Bangalore). Prof Vijayakumar had taught at NLSIU during its initial years and had even served as the University’s Registrar from 2005-2008.
The change to the list of courses involves scrapping subjects that are not required under the Bar Council of India Rules. These include courses in Accountancy, ‘Computer’, and Legal Writing, among others. Prof Vijayakumar stated that most of these courses were non-credit courses, which the students were required to mandatorily pass.
The decision comes in the backdrop of the fake degree scandal at NLIU Bhopal, where students were awarded degrees despite failing to clear all the subjects. A committee headed by former Madhya Pradesh High Court judge, Justice Abhay Gohil had found that NLIU staffers manipulated marks and helped students get fake degrees from 1998 to 2013.
The committee report stated that one such student of the 2010 batch failed in 47 subjects in 14 trimesters, but received a pass certificate for all subjects. The committee also found that a total of 188 students were given degrees under these circumstances, and had recommended action against 101 such students.
Says Prof Vijayakumar,
“When I assumed charge as Vice-Chancellor last year, there was a big issue of students failing subjects. After going through the records, I found that some of the rules were not being implemented. As a result of this, students who did not pass these extra courses, apart from the regular courses, were promoted to the next year.
When they came to the final year, some of these students had a backlog of 30-40 subjects which they had to pass in order to graduate. If a student cannot pass 15 subjects in a year, how can he be expected to clear these 30-40 subjects? So, they indulged in malpractice and the issues came out in the public.”
During the end of 2017, NLIU students had protested the state of affairs at the University, bringing classes to a standstill. The issue of manipulation of marks was one of the chief gripes; the straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident where the faculty and administration allegedly allowed a fourth-year student who failed a paper by ten marks to pass.
Following week-long protests, then Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and Chancellor of the University Hemant Gupta had met a delegation of students in order to assuage their concerns. Justice Gupta had called for a new Director to head the University, after students demanded that Prof SS Singh be ousted from the position. Prof Singh ultimately resigned from his position, paving the way for Prof Vijayakumar to take over the reins.