The students’ association at National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) in Kolkata condemned recent amendments to the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences Act, 1999, saying they would result in undue interference in the institute’s autonomy by the state government. The Student Juridical Association (SJA) of NUJS is also contemplating challenging the amendments in court.
Through the bill, passed on November 20, the state government proposed to reserve a minimum of 30 per cent of seats in NUJS, Kolkata for students who are domiciled in the state. It also proposed to provide a fee waiver for poor and economically backward students.
A statement issued by the SJA on Wednesday read, “The students are of firm belief that the these amendments to the WBNUJS Act reek of state government’s undue interference in an autonomous University’s affairs, threatens the independence and national character of our prestigious institution and destroys the primacy of merit and aptitude in the admission process. The Student Juridical Association of NUJS strongly condemns and disapproves of the manner as well as the content of the amendments carried out to the WBNUJS Act, 1999.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, SJA president Arindum Nayak said, “The idea of state government bureaucrats deciding the amount of student fees has a direct bearing on the financial flexibility of the university. We have strong apprehensions that this is nothing more than a clandestine attempt by the state government to restrict the university’s financial autonomy and consequently, increase state administrative control – especially in the absence of any express guarantee in the amendment bill for future state governmental grants and compensatory funding.”
The fourth-year student further said the attempt to introduce one-third or more state-level reservation strikes a blow to the thousands of meritorious candidates across the country who wants to study at NUJS.
“We have resolved to explore all avenues in our fight against this institutional assault, including petitioning our Hon’ble Chancellor, the Chief Justice of India to apprise and invite his attention to the recent developments as well as challenging the issue before the court of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, state Law Minister Moloy Ghatak said such 30 per cent reservation for state domiciles was present in other law universities. “This is there in other law universities barring a few. The proposed fee waiver is in favour of students. If some meritorious students cannot get admission because of economic constraints, this fee waiver will help them. There is no question of interference as students will be admitted on the basis of their all India rank,” he said.