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The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a plea seeking the removal of Prof GS Bajpai from the office of the Registrar of National Law University, Delhi.
The petition, which alleges the existence of rampant favouritism and nepotism in the University, also seeks initiation of the disciplinary actions against Bajpai and the outgoing Vice-Chancellor Prof Ranbir Singh for the blatant abuse of powers.
Notice was issued by a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar to NLU-D, Prof Bajpai and Prof Singh in a public interest litigation preferred by two public-spirited persons, Ashok Kumar Jain and Nitish Bharadwaj (petitioner).
It is the petitioner’s case that “some of the officials” at NLU-D had, of late, indulged in malpractices and resorted to flagrant violation of the rule of law in order to achieve their ulterior motives.
The petitioner claims that Prof Bajpai was removed from the National Law Institute University, Bhopal in 2011 after he was accused of serious misconduct and a judicial inquiry was conducted.
However, in 2011-12, Prof Singh appointed Prof Bajpai as a Professor at NLU-D after ignoring his disqualification and without following any process for a public appointment, the petitioner claims.
It is also alleged that Prof Bajpai does not hold any law degree and is thus ineligible to hold any post of law teacher in India. Since he does not qualify to be a ‘Professor of Law’, the petitioner has challenged his appointment as Registrar of NLU-D in 2014 in view of Section 21 of the National Law University Act, 2007.
The petitioner has further alleged that since his appointment as Registrar, Prof Bajpai has been arbitrarily using his power to shower benefits to his relatives and acquaintances.
The petitioner specifically refers to the appointments of Mehak Bajpai and Sabhyataprakash as the guest faculty and Communication Manager, respectively at NLU-D.
While Mehak Bajpai is the daughter of Prof Bajpai, Sabhyataprakash is his niece.
The petitioner has also contended that the admission of Mehak Bajpai to the NLU-D’s LLM degree Course and then to the Ph.D. course was by way of nepotism.
“..An RTI filed in this regard has brought to the fore the fact that the Selection Committee appointed for the recruitment of the Respondent No.5 (Sabhyata Prakash) was chaired by Respondent No.2 (Prf Bajpai). Further, there was also no public advertisement in newspapers for inviting applications for the post (of Communications Manager)..
..In August/Sept 2019, Respondent No.2, who is also the convener/ in-charge of LLM Governing Committee/ Centre for Post Graduate Legal Studies (CPGLS) 2019, also facilitated illegal appointment of his daughter i.e. Respondent No.4, without any process and qualification, as visiting/guest faculty to teach LLM students at the NLUD.”
Based on the above, the petitioner has argued that the state of affairs at NLU-D clearly reflect abuse of power, arbitrariness, nepotism, favouritism, and conflict of interest in the modus operandi of essential functionalities.
Amongst other reliefs from the Court, the petitioner has sought directions to quash the illegal appointment of Prof Bajpai as Registrar and Professor at NLU-D, and to quash the appointment of Mehak Bajpai and Sabhyataprakash as well.
To rule out future manipulation and to maintain transparency in the admission and appointment process at NLU-D, the petitioner has sought a direction to mandate admissions through an independent agency like the CLAT Consortium or any other independent agency.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, Prof Bajpai said,
“This is a personal interest litigation. The allegations against me are baseless and preposterous.. It is all false”
He added that he would give a strong reply to the petition before Court.
Opposing the petition before the Court, NLU-D today alleged that the PIL was motivated inasmuch the applications for the VC have been invited and the registrar is a potential candidate.
The matter would be heard next on February 28, 2020.
The petition was filed through Advocate Misbahul Haque.
NLU-D was represented by ASG Maninder Acharya with Advocate Sanjay Vashishtha.