NUALS Vice-Chancellor Post - A request to the Chancellor before the bargain and horse trading begins!

National Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) was set up by the Bar Council of Kerala Trust in 2002. NIALS was under the supervision of Cochin University of Science and Technology. Later in 2005 by virtue of The National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) Act 27 of 2005, the National Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) merged with the NUALS and became an independent University. This in short is the history behind the establishment of what is currently known as NUALS.

Prof. K.N.C. Pillai was the first Director of NIALS and Prof. S. G. Bhat was the first Vice-Chancellor of NUALS. After, the retirement of Prof. Bhat, the post was kept vacant for more than a year. During this period, the current Vice-Chancellor Prof. (Dr.) N. K. Jayakumar, was serving as the Legislative Secretary in the Kerala Legislative Assembly on deputation from the University of Kerala, where he served as a Professor. Immediately after his retirement from the University of Kerala, he was appointed as the Vice- Chancellor of NUALS. It is often alleged by many that the post of Vice-Chancellor was kept vacant for a year to enable Dr. Jayakumar to assume Vice-Chancellorship.

When I joined NUALS in 2006, we were promised that the construction of permanent campus would be completed within a year and that the University will shift to the permanent campus by the next year. The permanent campus, however, became a reality the year I passed out.  Thanks to the redtapism and lacklustre administration I along with many others could not even study for a single day at the new campus. That the administration is insensitive to the needs of the students and growth of the University equally is a fact that I can vouch for from my experience at NUALS.

I recently learned from my juniors at law school that the scenario has improved a lot. The campus itself has made a lot of difference and Dr. Jayakumar played an instrumental role in setting up the campus. Campus placement has also improved drastically and lot of other fruitful events and activities are happening at present. I was really happy to learn all these developments.

The current Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Jayakumar is due to retire in December and the bargaining/horse trading for the post has already begun. In all circumstances, Dr. Jayakumar is unlikely to get an extension of the tenure except for the reason of ongoing campus construction; which is very minute.

There are three main contenders to the post; I am not mentioning any of the names over here.  

Recently Krishna Kumar, Professor of Education at Delhi University and a former Director of NCERT, wrote in “The Hindu” an excellent column on India not nurturing young talent in academics. He mentioned, “Someone rare enough to be independent of personal as well as intellectual lobbies is the first to be eliminated. In the semi-final act of short listing, those lacking support from the dominant lobbies get weeded out. Then, in the ultimate moment, hard bargaining takes place and the institution’s future gets sealed. If there is someone with an unusual background or achievement, you can depend on the selection committee to find a technical ground to reject him or her.”

As per Section 27 of the NUALS Act, the Chancellor appoints the Vice-Chancellor on the unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee appointed by the Chancellor. The Search Committee shall consist of a) One nominee of the Bar Council of Kerala, b) One nominee of the University Grants Commission and c) One nominee of the State Government. As per Section 27(3), In case the Search Committee is unable to recommend a name unanimously, the Vice Chancellor shall be appointed by the Chancellor from among a panel of three names submitted to him by the Committee within three months. Section 27 (4) stipulates that, In case, the Committee fails to make an unanimous recommendation or to submit a panel as in section  27(3), the Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the Chancellor among a panel of three names submitted  to him by a majority of members of the Search Committee.  These are the rules governing appointment of the Vice-Chancellor.

Under the current political scenario, effectively, the Kerala Bar Council nominee and State Government nominee will have the final word. Prior to Amendment in 2008, the Search Committee consisted of a nominee of the Bar Council of India and not that of the Bar Council of Kerala. Also, it is a known fact that the Kerala Bar Council nominee and State Government nominee will be political appointments.

My request to the Chancellor of the University, Madame Justice Manjula Chellur is to instruct the Search Committee to adopt a transparent and fair process in the selection process. I would say that, even the vacancy for the post should be advertised and notified in all national dailies across India.

The more the people, more the options we have. We would not have to choose between few bad options. The Committee should also follow a fair and transparent process during all stages of the selection and they should have concrete reasons for suggestion a names/names. This should be included in a report and the same should be made available to public.

I would like to conclude by noting that, this incident is never an isolated event. This is what happens in each and every University and I would recommend everyone to read Krishna Kumar’s article in “The Hindu” for a critical analysis of the system.

I will be sending a Petition to the Chancellor about the need for a transparent process in the selection of the new Vice-Chancellor and anyone who wishes to sign the Petition  along with me; please let me know about the same. My mail id is or you can reach me on phone at +91 87221 53555.

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