This October, Army Institute of Law witnessed a first of its kind protest in the campus where the whole campus stood against archaic code of conduct and opaque administrative decisions. The protests escalated to a level where meetings were held between the student representatives and the heads of administration, a first of its kind at AIL.
The movement broke the ice of silence on campus and started the much-needed talks between the authorities and the students. With the actions taken up on the mess as well as investigation on the allegations on the warden, it is safe to say that there is a wind of change in the campus.
The democratically elected student representative wing is in the tubes and very soon it will be a full-fledged body bridging the gap between the authorities and students.
Demands fulfilled by authorities
In complete fulfilment of demand no. 1, an interim student body consisting of 5 representatives from each batch has been democratically nominated. In pursuance of the management order, it is incumbent upon the said body to draft a charter for the appointment of a democratically elected permanent student body, to be submitted by 15th November 2019.
In due consideration of demand no. 2, all the provisions of the code of conduct have been challenged as measures of unnecessary fine imposition and the unconstitutional regime have been declared to be under review.
Having been already circulated amongst all the students to invite suggestions, a draft titled, ‘Recommendations to the Code of Conduct’ has been submitted by the newly appointed interim student body and addressed to the Principal and forwarded to the Chairman for due deliberation and consideration, as on 25th October 2019.
In partial fulfilment of demand no. 3, the order has welcomed a system of feedback on the existing faculty.
In complete fulfilment of demand no. 4, the order has decided to mandate a system of weekly feedbacks and checks on the service providers, -a-.viz., messing and café. Also, in due consideration of the remaining part as to immediate redressal of complaints and student participation in hiring of the said service providers, the management has empowered the nominated student body to look into the same.
In complete fulfilment of demand no. 5 pertaining to equal student representation and fair hearing in disciplinary proceedings, the management has decided that one nominated student will be a part of the Board of Inquiry.
In due consideration of demand no. 7 and as required by the management order, a formal complaint requesting the initiation of Internal Complaints Proceedings against the Warden (Girls Hostel) has been forwarded by the Principal to the Chairman for directions as on 22nd October 2019.
A sense of fearlessness and accountability in the previously hostile environment is overwhelmingly obvious.
In less than 2 hours of the conclusion of the strike, the roll-call in the hostel was compelled to be conducted by the respective wardens for no member of the previously existing prefectorial body co-operated.
The warden-student interaction in the allegedly abusive girls’ hostel is visibly minimal and not even a single incident of abuse at her hands has come to become the subject of discussion.
In another episode, insects found in the lunch served one day after the conclusion of the strike agitated the already-aggrieved students, who were served fresh lunch by 2:15 pm, and unprecedentedly, a fine worth Rs. 1000 was imposed on the mess contractor upon receipt of a complaint against him on the same day.
In supreme anecdotal and historic value, an institute where students were discouraged to file combined petition for the fear of being fined for a minor offence under the Code of Conduct, not only filed a joint petition and participated in a strike lasting for 6 days, but also emerged in great number for a candle march organized on 22nd October, 2019, one day after the conclusion of the strike. The said march commemorated and celebrated the relentless and ongoing contribution of the student community to victoriously emerge through this joint endeavour.
The Road Ahead
As the constitution of a permanent student body, revocation of draconian provisions of the code, and the institution of inquiry against allegedly abusive female warden is underway, it is the resolve of every student to ensure the fulfilment of everything promised and implementation of everything which is rightfully ours.
That being stated, the student community awaits and is consistently pursuing a prompt response to the replies and complaints filed in reference to each of the above.
In consonance with the administrative decision to ensure a fair hearing and mandate a system of periodical feedback, it is imperative to acknowledge and discharge the student duty to devise the modalities for implementation of such a system. The unheard and unanswered demands which have been blatantly refused shall find an effective and fresh redressal through the democratically elected student body.
An additional demand to seek justice for every baseless disciplinary action speculated to follow this monumental strike shall find its way. The stance stands strengthened by the abundance of alumni support, and zealous instinct of esteemed legal luminaries who propose to intervene and extend support.
The road ahead shall be marked with the underlying spirit of the protest which is kept alive even after the culmination of the strike. Such culmination in no way indicates the submission of our spirit to a state of imposed fear by the authorities, but an act of marching towards a better future. The strike has ended only to fuel the ongoing protest and the voice of this protest shall echo an everlasting movement.