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Police forces armed with shields, batons, barricades and water-cannons patrol the campus of the National Law University and Judicial Academy, Guwahati, even as students protest administrative inaction.
Watch the video:
The issue stems from the administration’s apparent reluctance to provide students with services paid for as part of the university’s annual fees, which amount to around 2 lakhs a year. Among these are the Student Bar Association Fee, which was paid by the students despite the fact that the student bar only came into existence four years after the inception of NLUJAA. The students’ attempts at securing a refund of the fees for these four years have thus far been fruitless.
In addition to this, the students are also miffed at the fact that the university has not shifted to the new campus in Amingaon. The shift was supposed to take place in December 2015. The present campus and facilities are described by the students as “inadequate and oppressive, with students having to live in congested spaces and pathetic conditions”.
This is not the first time these issues have been raised; in September 2014, the students went on a hunger strike to protest the shambolic state of affairs at the university. This protest prompted erstwhile Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court K Sreedhar Rao to inspect the campus and take note of the lack of permanent faculty and the absence of a Vice-Chancellor.
A month later, Prof Vijender Kumar was appointed as NLUJAA’s Vice-Chancellor. After the ex-NALSAR Registrar brought in a number of improvements, it seemed that the university was headed in the right direction. However, the issue of refunding the fees has gone unaddressed. This, despite the Chief Justice of the High Court appointing an external committee of three Vice-Chancellors of three leading NLUs to address the matter of refund in June 2015.
View the report of the external committee:
In addition to this, Prof Kumar constituted a sub-committee comprising three faculty members and student representatives from the first batch, which graduates this year. After initial discussion bore no fruit, the same committees were reconstituted in February this year. Subsequently, the recommendation put forth by the external committee was found to be “unacceptable” by the student representatives and the student body in general.
Moreover, the students’ requests to attend the Executive Council meetings to put forth their grievances were turned down. Just last week, they were also denied admission to a General Council meeting presided over by Chancellor and Chief Justice of the High Court Ajit Singh.
Thus, the students have decided to conduct a peaceful protest on the campus. The protest is now into its second day and classes have been suspended indefinitely. Vice-Chancellor Prof Kumar was not available for comment at the time of publishing this story.