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Last year, the National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam was in the news for all the wrong reasons. With no Vice-Chancellor, permanent faculty or basic amenities to speak of, the students of the university went on a hunger strike to protest against the shambolic state of affairs.
Amidst the chaos, the university appointed Prof Vijender Kumar as its new Vice-Chancellor in October. The former NALSAR Registrar has since introduced a number of initiatives to address the difficulties faced by the students.
Eight months on, things seem to be looking up for the university. Bar & Bench spoke to Prof Vijender Kumar to find out about the changes that NLUJAA has undergone since those dark days. Below are excerpts of the interview.
First, there was a demand for permanent faculty. I have appointed 21 permanent teachers including one Professor, six Associate Professors and around nine Assistant Professors, all according to UGC norms. As of today, we have 29 faculty members. I have also set up the Examination Committee, Moderation Committee, Unfair Means Committee etc.
To address medical issues on campus, I set up a Health Centre immediately after my joining. I appointed a male doctor, a female doctor and a matron. I also set up a Counselling Centre with a Counsellor who visits on a regular basis. We have also made first-aid facilities available.
On shifting to the new campus
There were a lot of pending deals with contractors and to sort these out, I had a meeting with the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary, Finance of Assam last November. After this, the deals were released within two months and the construction on the new campus began. The academic and administrative blocks will be ready in two months and the hostels will be ready by this November. We plan to shift to the new campus in December.
Before my joining, the course material of all subjects were not given to the students. I had continuous meetings with the faculty members and we sat together and designed the reading materials, which were made available to the students in January.
Moot Court funding
Before I joined, students who participated in moot court competitions across the country were not being reimbursed. I took up the matter with the Executive Council and convinced them to reimburse the students’ expenses. Now, the university funds the travel in sleeper class, printing and Xeroxing of memorials, and the registration fees of every moot.
Students also asked for an academic journal, after which we have introduced two new journals – NLU Assam Review for the students and NLU Assam Law & Policy Review for the faculty. We have already made a call for papers and the first edition will most likely be published in July end or the first week of August.
As far as requirements are concerned RCCs for the 2016 batch has been formed and the brochure has already been printed. We will send the same to as many corporate firms, PSUs, etc. as possible. I will also personally invite potential recruiters to the campus to make presentations in the month of July.
On the need for a permanent CLAT body
Being part of the CLAT Core Committee, whatever criticism is levelled at the exam, is also aimed at me. I am of the opinion that [there should be] some kind of permanent secretariat with a minimum staff situated at one place, maybe Delhi.
This body should look into the matter all through the year so that the errors and problems we face can be eliminated. The issue has been discussed before in CLAT Core Committee meetings, other Vice-Chancellors are also in favour of having a permanent body.