Concrete Measures to Stop University Authorities from Becoming Pocket Dictators

By Protik Da

[Published on October 13, 2012]

A few stray thoughts from an alumnus of one of the most laid back places from where you can graduate in law. (University College of Law, University of Calcutta, Hazra Campus, as it used to be, before they made it into a department).

Background reading here.

1. 5 years LLB is a post graduate degree, ultimately.

You attend a college for this, regardless of whether you follow the Western system and call it a law-school or not. College/University is where they knock out the hidebound traditions that school imposes on you.

2. In a college you experiment because it is that stage in your life where you must lose and find yourself.

Within some very loose limits (we call them legality) you have to explore your personality.

Wearing what you want (even if it is a black three piece suit of clothes, which I used to wear in my student days, to acclimatize myself with the uniform I would have to wear the rest of my life) is a right that cannot be taken away from college students. So long as you do wear something that is!

3. Freedom of speech is one of the most cherished rights that democracy gives us. It is not just a fundamental right, it is what makes us free.

If today you criticize Lawctopus for calling a draconian measure “Taliban-like” are you not policing words which are not obscene, but operate as a shorthand for a huge concept?

As loyal students of a University you may express your grievance with the word, but to ask for its removal or rephrasing, you must give a lawful reason.

Is it defamatory? Does it incite violence or is it subversive to the extent that it interferes with public law and order? Is it opposed to public morality or does it compromise national sovereignty or religious feelings?

4. If a site for law students run by law students does not take up cudgels for law students, who will? Arvind Kejriwal? (that was sarcastic not serious).

rgnul administration

Concrete measures to stop university authorities from becoming pocket dictators:

a. Challenge any law that establishes them as ultra vires because it prohibits not merely restricts, and/or unreasonably restricts the freedom to form associations for students (who are major).

The vires of the statute has to be expressly challenged.

b. Write anonymous letters to the newspapers and websites that lawyers and law students and recruiters read complaining of the atrocities.

c. Complain in large numbers to the State Human Rights Commission.

d. Have class action/representative action litigation (including PIL if you are afraid to put your own name on it) filed in the High Court of the relevant state, complaining of denial of civic and political rights.

e. If there is a body (even if sponsored or heavily controlled by the authorities) where there is student representation, ensure that whoever serves on it from the student body speaks for you and not at you.

In other words even the “snitch” will have to spend the majority of his time in a hostel or with the other students in class. He must be made to understand that his loyalties lie with his fellows nor the teachers.

f. Listen to Another Brick in the Wall–Part II many times consecutively.

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Comments Till Now

  1. The conditions here in Amity University Rajasthan are worse. Amity Law School though doesn’t follow many of the BCI norms meant for Centre for Legal educations very obediently followed the BCI notification for taking steps against the ‘detracting’ condition of clothes in law schools and a dress code has been imposed and anybody who does not follow this norm they won’t be given attendance even if they are physically present in class. attendance is the strongest weapon the administration uses to make us do anything they want us to do because in addition to the compulsory 75% attendance there exist a norm according to which you get 1-5 marks if you have 76-100% attendance which you get only if you sacrifice your visits to home because you don’t get holidays even on festivals like Rakshabandhan. these are the reasons why every student of Amity University Jaipur can relate to Mr. Sushant Rohilla (student of Amity Delhi who committed suicide few days back and the reason behind which is alleged to be shortage of attendance and subsequent debarring from University exams). though there was already a censorship on the kinds of clothes we wear as no shorts, skirts and the alike clothes were permitted to be worn outside the hostel premises still they imposed dress code (black and white formals) and you are not given attendance even if you wear formals of any other color or kind which are not ‘detracting’. the university has retired defense officials at its apex positions like registrar, dean etc. who does many times do not have nay academic experiance and are not well versed with the standards a law school should have. they do not provide or cut short funds for the important activities essential for the legal education like legal aid camp, moot court competitions, court and jail visits (all of them are organised for name sake and show off purpose to meet the BCI norms) thinking them to be the waste of time and money. they bring for us the worst kind of faculty and those who are good does not remain here and leave because they get better opportunities in terms of working conditions and salary (amity university pays faculty a very low amount although they have huge amounts to give Dhoni and others for sponsorship and advertisements). the library doesn’t have sufficient amount of books required by us and reason given for this is shortage of funds though they have a lot to spend on marketing and advertisements. when we seek redressal of our grievances we are not given any heed, are insulted by the authorities, and are sometimes even suspended.

    if I mention each of the numerous problems the students face here then there is no end to it the above mentioned ones are only few of them.

  2. Well, the issue is getting grave in UPES. It appears that the purpose of the college authorities is not to focus on students’ career and classes but college uniform. People here are not allowed to enter the college campus if you’re not wearing proper college dress code.(For instance, by here proper means, you’re not allowed to wear even black socks instead of navy blue socks). Even if your socks are not visible, then they will ask everyone (boys & girls) to lift their trousers and show what colour socks they are wearing or are they even wearing any socks. We are treated like a herd of sheep by the college guards placed at the main gates of the respective building. Your i-cards are confiscated for not wearing leather shoes. (Please mind it, UPES campus is almost on the hills, which makes it really difficult to wear leather shoes for boys and for girls too). Apart from that they think that we are some kindergarten students who will spoil their buildings and classes by taking coffee inside the building, so no coffee inside the building for STUDENTS while the faculties have a small cafeteria inside the building. Above all, I have even heard the guards shouting at girls and not permitting them to enter the building for wearing NAIL PAINTS (Can you imagine??????). Such attitude of the authorities is clearly outrageous and offensive.

    P.S. IT’S JUST A SINGLE CHAPTER OF A BOOK. THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO IT……………………….

  3. Protik Prokash Banerji says:

    I am aghast, Yours Truly. If you are serious about this, and if you are prepared to assist us on this, would you, confidentially of course, mail me the information about this ‘varsity? I promise to treat your disclosures as a whistleblower as confidential information and neither your electronic mail address nor the information disclosed without your express consent by electronic mail.
    My e-mail address is:
    [email protected].

    Whatever I will do, I will do in my official capacity.
    Luv

  4. Yours Truly says:

    well, after reading all the comments on this article and the one about the “talibanisation”, I could not help but smirk humourlessly. I study in a National Law University where uniform is compulsory (on ALL days!!) and staying back in the hostel during class hours is simply unbearable- not just because of the power cut (power supply to main academic block is ensured at all times) but also due to uncooperative hostel staff who do not speak any language apart from the regional one(If you thought you could survive in this country by knowing Hindi and English, you are thoroughly mistaken). The wifi of the university is heavily monitored. All entertainment, video, music websites are completely blocked.
    And like this was not enough, many other issues regarding the Hostel and Mess administration (like foreign objects routinely turning up in curries and non veg food mixed with veg stuff, providing wifi for 3-4 hours instead of the 24 hours boasted about in the CLAT brochure) is simply ignored by the main administration. When issues like this are raised, they simply deflect it all by blaming the students for everything, specially the students who come from outside the state. Sooner or later, the person who spearheaded the complaint will be targeted for ‘overuse’ or ‘unauthorised use’ of the wifi, fined heavily for not returning the library books on time or some other indirect form of persecution which seems innocuous at the surface.
    You all talk of wearing shorts and chappals to class, I am sorry, but it is too superficial and frivolous for me to relate. At least Lawctopus is standing up for RGNULites, but here, anyone who raises her voice is on her own. So cheer up, RGNULites! It could have been worse for you…

  5. Dear Administrator (Author):

    Thank you for the ‘definition’ provided. However, I would offer that this is not any sort of authoritative statement of meaning, but simply that which constitutes your view of the term. Others may hold a different understanding of what it conveys.

    Insofar as my completely missing the “legal” point, may I just say, that as law students (or, I’m sure, as lawyers), we are constantly in danger of falling prey to a legal-tunnel-vision syndrome. The fact is, that the law doesnt live in isolation from other things, for example, public opinion. All I have suggested is that perhaps the terminology used, is a bit too lurid. It is an opinion that is possibly shared by others, thereby reducing the total effectiveness of your arguments. And you are missing the fact that I feel that your agitation in favour of the demands of some students that these dress limitations be removed is completely justified!

    PPB: I think your post on the message above completely tallies with my point. The Taliban, per your own suggestions above, is an organisation that spreads its viewpoint through the barrel of the gun, or the point of the sword. The communist party uses bombs and murder. The various fanatic orgs also use similar tactics. Can you imagine the professors of NUJS using such tactics against students if they defy their diktat? I appreciate that the Taleban reference is metaphorical. I appreciate its intent. My only point was, that if it detracts from a good cause, maybe it should go.

    Sorry for taking up you guys time over what is essentially a fight in which I have no dog. Im an experienced professional, studying Law at Delhi University because I enjoy it.

    I hope the issue gets resolved soon. Frankly, (I’ve been to Punjab plenty of times), I cant imagine having to go to class in a uniform during May or August or September. Shorts would probably be the best way to go in the oppressive heat of the day. Indeed, being that the Univ is located in the Punjab, possibly reference should be made to the five K’s of Sikhism enunciated by Guru Gobind Singh. #4 on that list is the Kacchera… which is to say, SHORTS! Surely they knew what sort of attire is suitable for their climate. 🙂

  6. Protik Prokash Banerji says:

    Dear Prakash, your point on the score of good taste makes sense. However Taliban is not a murderous group per se. It is a group actuated and inspired by a literal and fundamentalist version of an otherwise rich religion and this group tries to impose its world view on everyone within its ambit, with force and violence if necessary. It therefore purveys ideals (of a sort) through the barrel of a gun, the blade of a sword and the right that might brings. In that way, it is very much like Maoists or some other outfits in India owing allegiance to both Hindu and Muslim denominations, whose basic aim is to stifle freedom of expression and create a uniform, homogeneous mindset of all whom they control. Typical communist organizations are also like this. If the university authorities were called “Dictatorial” or “Reactionary” would you have minded?

  7. I think one need not necessarily, I quote, “give a lawful reason. Is it defamatory? Does it incite violence or is it subversive to the extent that it interferes with public law and order? Is it opposed to public morality or does it compromise national sovereignty or religious feelings”.

    A thing need only be in poor taste for people to request its removal.

    Furthermore, to term an Indian University “Taleban-like”, is simply to be intellectually dishonest. Where does the comparison lie? The Taliban is a murderous militant group, completely comfortable with using killings, maimings and other and brutal punishments to enforce their line of thinking. I dont see how the administration of the University has resorted to any such action. There is no more sense in such a blurting out of ill formed ideas than there is in those of the fine fellows who go about comparing a certain Indian chief minister to Hitler.

    These odious comparisons do little to actualise the (in my opinion, justified) wish of some students to see dress code regulations lifted. Rather, they detract attention and sap energy from the perfectly sane line of reasoning that such restrictions are unwarranted in the liberal atmosphere of a place of higher learning. Sloganeering is not the answer to everything. Sober, well thought out action is.

    Just my thoughts. Full disclosure: I am NOT a student of ANY national law university, nor does my university insist upon any particular dress code. Indeed, I have frequently attended class in my pyjamas.

    • administrator says:

      Taliban-like means: oppressive, paternalistic, authoritarian, high-handed; that which is not accommodative and is repressive of the ‘other’ views.

      And as a website, we cannot ‘act’ physically inside the university. The best action we can take is to write, and write forcefully.

      And you’ve totally missed the ‘legal’ point.

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