Students of the Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU), Raipur are in the midst of a vehement protest against the reinstatement of Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Sukh Pal Singh.
However, last Thursday, the Supreme Court directed that there would be an interim stay of the High Court’s judgment, in turn prompting Dr Singh’s return to the University.
The students in turn responded by commencing an indefinite protest on Tuesday night, eventually culminating in the passage of a no-confidence motion against Dr Singh said to have been signed by around 800 students.
Whereas Dr Singh is said to have requested a private meeting with the Student Bar Association upon his return on Tuesday, the students preferred to call a general body meeting. Unsatisfied with Dr Singh’s response to various issues raised during this meeting, the students took to passing a no-confidence motion against Dr Singh.
The grounds for issuing the motion of no-confidence were highlighted in a six-page letter released on Tuesday, in which various grievances were raised under the following heads:
– Alleged financial irregularities: Inter alia, the letter points out that a 2016 report prepared by a former member of the Executive Council on alleged financial irregularities is yet to be tabled, possibly because its contents could be extremely embarrassing for the administration headed by Dr Singh. The apparent misappropriation of funds earmarked for moot courts and allied activities, Centres of Excellence at the University, and the construction of a pond area, pavement etc. has also been mentioned.
– Inaction against sexual harassment complaints: The students have contended that Dr Singh had refused to treat sexual harassment complaints made against certain faculty seriously. They also state that they have lost faith in the independence of the Internal Complaints Committee due to the constant interference by Dr Singh.
– Lack of Transparency: Apart from the non-constitution of a review committee to monitor the University’s functioning, the students have taken issue with the non-disclosure of the University’s rules and regulations, meetings of decision-making authorities, financial statements and budgetary allocations etc.
– Suppressing student/student body interests: Grievance has been raised against the student to teacher ratio of 1:32, lack of assistance in boosting recruitment opportunities, dismal research output, lack of seminars and conferences, the absence of a feedback mechanism etc. Further, the letter intimates that fresh student body elections are declared before the completion of tenure, thereby suppressing the demands of the student body.
– Arbitrary hiring and firing of Faculty: Following the arbitrary termination of 14 faculty members last year, the letter states that University is grappling with the problem of insufficient faculty. Few of the newly appointed ad-hoc faculty are also stated to be extremely incompetent.
– Centralisation of administrative powers: The letter points out that such centralised power has also resulted in the absence of a permanent Registrar, forcing the students to approach the VC even for trivial tasks such as getting A4 size papers. Besides, key administrative posts are vested in a few persons. The letter goes on to state that Dr Singh’s constant interference in proctorial board decisions has destroyed the independence of key administrative organs.
– Maladministration: The students highlight that the needs of Persons With Disabilities continue to be neglected. Among other instances cited, VC Singh’s alleged appointment of the library attendant as his cook, while claiming that library hours cannot be extended, has also been questioned
As the deadlock continued, the students also issued an ultimatum on Wednesday night, demanding that Dr Singh step down from the post of VC by September 28, at 5 pm. This ultimatum was handed over to Dr Singh last night by student representatives.
Read the letter of no-confidence dated September 25 below:
Feature Image courtesy Facebook.