Yet another National Law University (NLU) is facing the brunt of its students’ dissent. Even as RGNUL Patiala witnessed protests until very recently, students of Himachal Pradesh National Law University (HPNLU), Shimla are up in arms over the lack of basic amenities on campus.
The protests started yesterday, with students asking for clean water and food, more hostel space, and WiFi, among other demands.
One of the students who spoke to Bar & Bench said that many students were hospitalised due to food poisoning after consuming mess food. The lack of water purifiers is also an issue faced by the students.
In terms of space constraints, one student revealed that some hostel rooms are accommodating as many as five girls, with just one washroom for them. Further, there is only one common washroom for women outside the hostel.
On the other hand, HPNLU Vice-Chancellor Prof Nishtha Jaswal told Bar & Bench that the administration was doing its best to address the students’ concerns.
“I had a talk with the students a couple of days back, there was no misunderstanding. There were a few issues that have been addressed; things flared up in the morning.”
To address the issue of clean water. Prof Jaswal said that water dispensers will soon be put in place on campus. As regards the quality of mess food, she said,
“I had promised them that if they were not satisfied with this contractor, we can get another one. I also suggested that they have a cooperative mess, but they were not ready.”
The lack of space – particularly in the girls’ hostel – is one thing the administration has no power over. As Prof Jaswal says,
“Construction of other buildings is going on, but we don’t have a grant from the state government to construct a girl’s hostel.”
She added that Chancellor of the University and Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court Surya Kant was in touch with the Chief Minister of the state, and was trying his best to get the grant.
“The plan for the girls’ hostel has been approved, and once the grant is received, construction can start immediately.”
HPNLU, which recently joined the fold of CLAT Universities, charges Rs 2.2 lakh per annum for its undergraduate course. This is amongst the highest fees charged at NLUs across the country. Despite this, the students are suffering from a lack of basic amenities. As one student puts it,
“Where is the money going?”
Established in 2016, HPNLU does not have a campus of its own, and presently functions out of the Himachal Pradesh Judicial Academy premises.
Students revealed that whenever the administration was approached for redressal of grievances, the students would be asked to “adjust”, given the fact that the University is in its nascent stages.
Into the third year since the University’s inception, it seems that the students have had enough.
All three batches of the undergraduate courses, as well the LL.M. batch, have decided to go on indefinite protest today until the administration provides them with written assurances.
This is not the first time HPNLU students have demanded that amenities be provided. An email addressed to the administration last year did not receive a positive response. Justice Surya Kant subsequently came to the campus. However, interactions with him bore no fruit.
Meanwhile, the University has announced Holi vacations till Monday, March 25. The students claim that earlier, there was only one day reserved for Holi – Thursday, March 21.
The students plan to continue their protest until written assurances are given that their demands will be fulfilled.
Update [4:38 PM]: The students have temporarily called off the protests after the administration installed water purifiers and provided accommodation for the girls. The students’ association has give the authorities time to rectify other issues, and have reserved the right to protest again if the demands are not met.