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Dear Anuj, Being involved in IDIA and Donnie’s case from the initial stages, may I take this opportunity to point out to you and the readers of Bar & Bench, facts, which have been overlooked or perhaps not considered when you wrote this critique on the entire episode relating to Donnie.
By Diptoshree Basu
Being involved in IDIA and Donnie’s case from the initial stages, may I take this opportunity to point out to you and the readers of Bar & Bench, facts, which have been overlooked or perhaps not considered when you wrote this critique on the entire episode relating to Donnie. While your commitment towards ensuring transparency in the functioning of institutions deserves appreciation, I do not think that Donnie’s case is a fit example to bring out this issue before the stakeholders within the legal industry.
For the sake of clarity, let me address each of my concerns in separate points.
The outcome of this petition was published in the media already and there is no ambiguity around it. GNLU has promised to remove the rule from its prospectus in future. Please see the Times of India article, which mentions the same. Dr. Mukul Sinha, in the interview, has also mentioned that “the question is not just about Donnie. It is about the arbitrary nature of the clause.”
There is no question of any ‘discretionary power’ being exercised to grant admission to one candidate here. The rule mentioned in the GNLU prospectus did not have any force of law since it was not a part of the GNLU Regulations, 2009 neither did the Executive Council adopt this rule as an amendment to the Regulations by following the due process of law (as would be evident from the GNLU Executive Council Minutes of Meeting dated Friday, 16 December 2011 that adopted the contents to be submitted for the CLAT brochure). The minutes of the Meeting was attached to the Writ Petition as annexure, which was published by us on the IDIA website.
The Rule itself being non est, leaves no room for a possibility of the head of the institution using his discretion to grant admission to a particular student. Admission into GNLU was Donnie’s right by virtue of his commendable CLAT scores.
This case is not an exception made for any particular student, by an institution using its discretionary power. As is evident from Mr. Bimal Patel’s letter, published earlier by Bar & Bench here, GNLU finally considered Donnie’s representation and took a decision to remove the rule from the prospectus. It is therefore evident that the benefits of such a move would be available to every student in future, and not just to Donnie. We, at IDIA, did not see any reason to continue with the litigation, since our concerns were suitably addressed by GNLU, albeit after significant hours spent in convincing them and several eminent lawyers issuing their opinions on the legal standing of the Rule which the University was seeking to impose.
In a perfect world, we would prefer to have an institutions which would take care not to introduce such arbitrary rules (even if my mistake) in their governing charters. However, once such mistake has been pointed out, very few institutions have the courage and the integrity to revisit their decision and undo the damage that has been caused. Instead of labelling it as regressive, I would applaud Mr. Patel for taking the most honourable step and removing the rule from the brochure.
Please note that IDIA promotes access to law school and diversity among student composition, by providing financial and educational assistance to underprivileged law aspirants. We do not, in any way solicit or promote differential treatment to our scholars when it comes to admission criteria or eligibility. We only equip them with the required knowledge so that they are able to compete on a fair platform with every other law aspirant. Our scholars are worthy of what they claim, and fortunately, pity is not included in that list! They are capable, courageous and fighters in their own sphere and do not intend to elicit sympathy votes from anyone!
I would request you to kindly refrain from imputing any allegation regarding lack of transparency in this case. We have made all efforts to publish the Writ Petition, the summary of hearings as well as Mr. Patel’s letter addressed to Prof. Shamnad Basheer, notifying us about his intentions to resolve the issue amicably and offer Donnie admission at GNLU, acknowledging the inconvenience caused to us by virtue of having to approach the court et al. We would be happy to provide you with further details, if available with us, in case such information is required for journalistic purposes.
Lastly, I reiterate that we, at IDIA, do not solicit any differential treatment for our IDIA scholars. While we have assisted Donnie in filing the Writ Petition, the positive outcome of this would be available to every student, irrespective of his financial condition. Such a promise has been made by GNLU. Donnie has gained his admission rightfully through his CLAT scores, not by virtue of any collective sympathy vote. Please do not draw unwarranted analogies with a hypothetical rich kid who when faced with a similar situation, would not have secured admission due to lack of the sympathy factor in his case and would have been accused of offering financial benefits to the law college! That would be an extremely insensitive comment and demeaning for the boy who fought for his rights and I sincerely hope you do realise it someday.
I hope I have been able to alleviate some of the concerns, which you have sought to raise through this article. I understand that you have always been among the few who are committed towards promoting transparency within the legal industry. However, it is essential to be informed about the complete facts of a matter (especially since all of it is publicly available) before delving into the issues – A critique is rendered futile otherwise. Making personal comments about individuals who have championed the cause, without verifying facts, unduly draws attention to your lack of journalistic capabilities, which might not be the case at all!
Diptoshree Basu is an IDIA volunteer and was involved in mentoring and training Donnie for CLAT exam.
“I thank you for this. In response, I would just like to quote what I have said elsewhere:
“An old, old friend of mine once told me (and I paraphrase here), “A man ought not to be judged by how often he falls but whether he has the ability to rise after every fall”. And fall I have. ………
1. I mucked up with respect to writing that a “special status” was given to Donnie. There are no two ways about it. I should have caught that through better research and competence. For this, I can only offer an unconditional apology.
2. I mucked up by failing to mention that there was another student who had filed a similar petition and that, with the dropping of the rules, he too would be given admission. This is as extremely pertinent fact and one which should have gone into the article.
[But I do not agree that] That GNLU could easily drop a rule/statement from the brochure without the same being an arbitrary exercise of power. I still believe that this points to a complete lack of transparency in the manner in which NLUs are run.”
Lastly, I reiterate that this was never meant to be an attack (personal or otherwise) on the student, on IDIA or any of the people associated with the initiative. I find it extremely unfortunate that it is being perceived as so.”