KSLU communique on recruitments comes as a shock to PG students

The recent circular by the Hubli-based Karnataka State Law University (KSLU) asking the principals of affiliated law colleges not to recruit candidates who have procured LL.M. degree through distance education/correspondence course or issued by any university, institute or centre in Karnataka other than KSLU or NLSUI (National Law School of India University) after 2011, has come as a rude shock to students who have done their postgraduation during the said period. This has also led to criticism and threats of agitation.

Although the circular which is based partly on the decision taken by the Bar Council of India and subsequently communicated to all the universities imparting law education through its letter dated September 8, 2011, pertains to postgraduate courses offered by open universities and PG law courses offered in the distance mode, KSLU has applied the rule to even the State universities in Karnataka offering regular postgraduate courses in law.

According to the letter sent by the BCI, the Legal Education Committee of BCI has resolved that for the purpose of appointing faculty members to teach law in the Centre of Legal Education, any LL.M. degree through distance/correspondence course should not be considered as a qualification.

The decision of the committee is based on the finding by the Directorate of Legal Education of the BCI that in most courses offered through correspondence/distance education mode, classes are conducted only for 10 to 15 days in a year and the degree/certificate issued by the university concerned does not indicate whether the students have passed the course through distance education or correspondence mode.

While this decision by the BCI will affect the career prospects of candidates pursuing distance education/correspondence courses in law offered by open universities and also State universities across the country, the KSLU circular has included the regular PG courses offered by the law departments of the State-run universities in Karnataka too. This has become a bone of contention now.

To understand the logic behind the inclusion of the PG law regular courses offered by the State universities in Karnataka to the list, under the BCI rule, one needs to go back to 2009, the year KSLU was set up under the KSLU Act, 2009.

As per Section 6 of the Act, the new university had its jurisdiction across the State. Section 6 (iv) said ‘On and from the date of commencement of this Act, all colleges and autonomous institutions including postgraduate departments imparting education in law previously admitted to the privileges of or affiliated to the Karnataka, Mysore, Bangalore, Tumkur, Gulbarga, Mangalore, Women and Kuvempu (Universities) shall be deemed to be admitted to the privileges of or affiliated to the University.”

However, after the establishment of KSLU, although all the degree colleges offering law courses (now 92) were brought under its jurisdiction, the law departments of the Mysore, Karnataka (Dharwad), Bangalore and Gulbarga universities were kept out as the State universities sought two years to decide on the issue.

But till date, they have remained outside the jurisdiction of KSLU and this is under dispute now. While the State universities are unwilling to merge their law departments with KSLU, the latter is insisting that they should do so because the KSLU Act, 2009 demands it and that is the reason for issuing such a circular.

“They (State universities) were reluctant to join the KSLU as they were apprehensive of its future and were not sure whether BCI and the University Grants Commission (UGC) would recognise the new university and that’s why they sought time… Now, the BCI has recognised KSLU and the UGC has also extended the basic grant of Rs. 5 crore to it. KSLU has emerged as a full-fledged university with its four PG centres” said the Vice-Chancellor of KSLU, J.S. Patil.

Prof. Patil said that even after the time sought by them was over, the State universities were still reluctant to get the law departments merged with KSLU. He said that he was forced to take the legal action as he had to adhere to the KSLU Act.

Prof. Patil’s contention is that he is just following the KSLU Act (Section 6). “Let me clarify that I don’t have any intention to damage the careers of the students. But I was forced to do so. Since 2011, I have been taking up this issue with the universities concerned and also in the higher education council meetings. But the matter has been kept pending. Only after having exhausted all efforts I have taken this decision. The matter has been discussed during the academic council meeting also. Right now the university doesn’t have a Syndicate and the Government is yet to reconstitute the Syndicate even five months after the completion of the tenure of the earlier Syndicate,” he said.

What next?

According to Prof. Patil, it is time for the government to act instead of sleeping over the issue. “The first option for the State universities would be to merge their PG law departments with the KSLU and the KSLU can declare them as valid courses with retrospective effect. The other would be urging the State Government to amend Section 6 of KSLU Act, 2009, to exempt the State universities as has been done in case of NLSUI.”

Already the VC’s circular has generated much heat and he said that it was essential to make the government take a final decision on the issue.

The government’s decision will decide the future of those PG students of law who have passed out from State universities.