AN OUTLOOK ON NATIONALISATION OF NLUs
Though the word in itself stands for National law University, these universities are not nationalized as of yet.
What is a National Law University?
Considered to be the IITs of law, National Law Universities or NLUs are the most sought-after law colleges for admission. Currently, there are 23 NLUs in the country. Affiliated to the Bar Council of India (BCI), NLUs are recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
National Law Universities are single-discipline universities that offer integrated honors as well as law degrees to aspirants. The first NLU was established in 1986 and was called the National Law School of India University (NLSUI), Bangalore. NLSIU was established under the National Law School of India Act, 1986.
Following the footsteps of NLSIU Bangalore, many other State Legislative Assemblies also passed legislation to establish National Law Schools. All the National Law Schools (NLS) thus established may differ from NLSIU in terms of modalities but their structure, as well as a model of imparting education, is more or less the same.
In 2018, the newest National Law School (NLS) was added to the total number of national law schools in the country, taking the total number to 23.
The word itself is a misnomer.
When heard or read, it seems like the ' National law universities' are truly National in all the senses but when the bubbles break its already too late, unlike other 'National' Universities, NLU run under the support of State governments, these state Governments, however, are not much active on the financial front as they only usually provide with one time funds.
This initial burst of funding, as former NUSRL Vice-Chancellor BC Nirmal says, is inadequate. Dr. BC Nirmal, former Vice-Chancellor, NUSRL Ranchi
"When NUSRL was first launched, the Chief Minister promised to give huge funds to make it a global standard University. We were provided about 63 acres of land by the government. We received 50 crore rupees in three installments – 1 crore in 2010, 2 crores in 2011, and 47 crores in 2012.
The construction costs alone amounted to 85 crore rupees. We have already paid 50 crores, but 35 crores and an additional 7 crores in interest are due to the CPWD. They are now insisting that if we don't pay, they will go for arbitration."
Since these State governments are not very keen on providing the financial support that these Universities accommodating and teaching several students to require, as a consequence NLUs are coerced to charge unreasonably high annual fees to make ends meet. Since students pay such exorbitant fees as a natural corollary, they expect equivalent services that are rarely met and follows the never-ending drama between the administration and the student body, it's no surprise that they quarrel and squabbles between the poor administration and students go a long way.
Adding to the very ‘National’ character of these NLUs comes another aspect that is domicile reservation, in many NLUs this percentage is almost half that is 50% of the total students it again dilutes the ‘national’ nature and does little in the way of promoting diversity in these universities.
In light of these facts, the argument that state governments open up NLUs merely to satisfy their vote bank gains ground. The most glaring example is Tamil Nadu National Law School, Tiruchirappalli, located in Navalurkattapattu, which happens to be near erstwhile Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s constituency of Srirangam. There is simply no other reason for having an NLU situated in such a remote area. And in cases where the state government does supply funds, like in the case of RMLNLU, it does not play a proactive role in ensuring that the funds are sufficiently utilized. The recent protest at the University speaks for itself.
At times when various National law universities were busy protesting against the biased, faulty and corrupt administration National law school, Bangalore, NALSAR, Hyderabad and NUJS Kolkata came up with a manifesto to declare these institutions as the institutions of national importance after which the NLIU Bhopal demanded the Nationalization of NLUs.
A private member's Bill to nationalize legal education was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Hon'ble Prof. (Dr.) Sugata Bose, the objective was to merge all the state laws which established NLUs of that particular state into one consolidated act, so that there be uniformity concerning the process, procedure and functioning experienced in all the law schools wide India, with Chief Justice of India as a visitor of these Universities.
The Need to Nationalize NLUs
Be it Hidayatullah National law University where the students protested on end to put an end to the scrupulous administration and oust the Vice-Chancellor, or Rajiv Gandhi National Law School, Patiala where 6 students were suspended as they raised their voice against the poor quality of food being served in the University mess, the list of students of National law Universities sitting in protest every other day is unending, the reason for such protests is degrading the quality of teaching staff, corrupt administration, illogical and sudden hike in fees, absence of bare minimum necessities or facilities such as quality food etcetera. In the last two years, the nation has seen students from around the country sitting in protest be it scorching heat or unbearable cold, this is not something for which such a huge amount of fees is paid by the NLU students.
The struggle for the nationalization of NLUs is there to bring National law Universities under the control of the central government, and to reach the level of IITs, IIMs etcetera.
DSNLU Vizag final year student Debadutta Bose had drafted a bill to provide for INI status to NLUs, which was later introduced in the Lok Sabha. It is currently pending.
National law Universities and Indian Institute of Technology (IITs)
One very crucial argument brought forward by the students and parliamentarians who are in favor of nationalization of NLUs is that nationalization of National Law Universities will bring these universities at par with the Indian institutes of technology (IITs) running in the country.
The Indian Institute of technology has its one consolidated central government legislation which is, The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961. The Act declares certain institutions of technology to be institutions of national importance.
Section 2 of the act mentions the name of all the IITs in India that is 16 as per the latest amendment is the year 2016, whereas concerning national law universities there is no one proper legislation applicable throughout on all the NLUs uniformly, for instance, Hidayatullah National law university, Raipur is established by the state government of Chhattisgarh, and hence the university is not entitled to any kind of grant by the central government as is very much clear by section 3 of HNLU Act 2003, which provides that the capital expenditure of the university shall be borne by the State Government.
One integrated statute for all the universities of same stature is necessary so that there occurs no bias, which is the scenario in the case of IITs, all the IITs are set up for dissemination of knowledge for engineering education and research, all the IITs are in one way or the other contribute to the same viewpoint and hence common legislation, whereas in the case of NLUs there are several separate statutes for each university established in the particular state hence differentiating the fundamentals of each NLU however they were supposed to be unifying in its fundamental structure just like IITs, and that is one of the reasons why nationalization of NLUs is being demanded throughout.
The status of grants provided by the state government is very well known, contrary to the popular opinion these ‘National’ universities are not national but state universities and that is the reason for such exorbitant fees in NLUs. Some national law universities even cost more than two hundred thousand rupees per annum whereas the fees of IITs cost around 20k to 50k which is by far less than NLUs.
Several students every year pin their hopes upon these National law universities only to find out they are the victims of a very glamorous scam in the name of National University, the huge amount of money these students pay is not to sit on the road to protest for the unworthy administration and a horrendous curriculum, being short on one or two marks make the entire difference in the case of these Universities and the future of these bright minds is put at stakes. It’s high time that these Universities nationalized, so that, at least the money of coming generation who dream of wearing a black coat in the courts of justice, be put to the use they agreed upon.
HIDAYATULLAH NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, RAIPUR