"Law schools said that they would make lawyers social engineers" (In pic: NALSAR University, Hyderabad)
"Law schools said that they would make lawyers social engineers" (In pic: NALSAR University, Hyderabad)

Reservation Policy not in violation of law: NALSAR hits back at Congress leader

Aditya AK

Even as the debate over the ‘national’ nature of National Law Universities goes on, NALSAR Hyderabad has defended its state domicile reservation policy in the face of criticism.

At a press conference held in Delhi on Monday, All India Congress Committee spokesperson Sravan Dasoju spoke out against NALSAR’s failure to reserve 85% of its seats for local students. He even addressed a letter to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao highlighting the same.

In response, the University has stated that its reservation policy is in tune with the law. A press release issued by Registrar Prof V Balakista Reddy states,

“Thus, the Registrar has asserted in unequivocal terms that NALSAR is not in violation of any law. In fact, NALSAR is fully complying law as far as reservations are concerned.”

The reservation issue stems from Article 371D of the Constitution of India, which confers special status on the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The provision empowers the President of India to provide those domiciled in the state equitable opportunities and facilities in public employment and education. In view of this, various universities have been reserving a majority of seats for local students.

However, Vice-Chancellor Prof Faizan Mustafa maintains that the University is governed by the NALSAR Act.

“The NALSAR Act was passed in 1998. At the time, the State Assembly was fully aware of this constitutional provision. It did not provide for local reservation then.”

An amendment to the Act in 2010 brought in a state domicile reservation of 20%, which the University has been following since. Says Prof Mustafa,

“We are following that 20% domicile reservation. It is for the legislature to decide the amount of reservation NALSAR will have. If they have decided we should follow the 20% rule, how can I make it 85%?”

Reference was also made to the example of Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU), Visakhapatnam, which introduced an 85% state domicile reservation shortly after its inception in 2014. At that time, the CLAT Core Committee – of which Prof Mustafa was a part – had insisted that DSNLU bring down its domicile reservation to 50% for it to be accepted into the CLAT fold. DSNLU had duly complied, making an amendment to its Act in 2016 to this effect.

Driving the point home, the University’s press release states,

“NALSAR has not received any communication either from the President of India under Article 371D or from the State Government to reserve 85% seats for the local candidates. In fact, if such a reservation is made, NALSAR will not be allowed to remain part of Consortium of National Law Universities as the national character of NALSAR shall be seriously undermined. NALSAR is an institution of eminence with just 120 seats in B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) and therefore providing excessive reservation may not be wise.”

On the demand for 85% state domicile reservation, Prof Mustafa says,

“This cannot be done in a national institution. If you are a national law university, then the domicile quota should be within permissible limits.”

The issue of state domicile reservation at India’s oldest national law universities has prompted called to ‘nationalise’ them. The NLUs are currently run by their respective state governments.

Last year, a move to introduce 50% state domicile reservation at NLSIU Bangalore was met with much criticism, as was the move to introduce 30% reservation at NUJS Kolkata for students domiciled in West Bengal.

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