At 12:00 am on August 15, 2018 ('at the stroke of the midnight hour') the Student Juridical Asssociation released its Performance Report for 2016-18. The report is an exhaustive list of reforms and initiatives undertaken by the office-bearers of the SJA in the last two years to further the interests of the student body and the University.
The release, with a cover caption "Eternal vigilance has proven to be the price of our liberty", was accompanied by a few words from the former President Arjun Agarwal wherein he states: "The report is a rousing story of our collective's exemplary unity, determination and resilience. When we first took office, an unholy mess awaited us - a financial scam of epic proportions; doublespeaking administration; and a faculty driven with intercine factionalism. In hindsight, bless this mess. It forced us, the SJA, to move beyond its comfort zone of vanilla housekeeping matters, fests, et al."
The report begins with an impactful acknowledgement stating:
"We take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to our Hon’ble Chancellors (Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice (Retd.) J.S. Kehar, and Chief Justice (Retd.) T.S. Thakur); the Hon’ble General Council; the Hon’ble Executive Council; the Hon’ble Academic Council; the Hon’ble Finance Committee; the esteemed University Review Commission (2017); our faculty members and other employees of the University for hearing us out patiently and supporting our efforts of making NUJS a better place for everyone"
It then goes on to detail how, as a result of the multiple tussles with the administration arising out of follow-up action on the 2014 financial embezzlement fiasco and otherwise, the office-bearers of the SJA for the year 2016-18 had to take on the responsibility of playing an active role in ensuring administrative accountability within the University. "Even while making reasoned demands for our most basic rights, we often found ourselves on a collision course with a covetous administration. Our hard-fought efforts to overcome these challenges culminated in propelling a much-needed and full-scale administrative rinse."
The report goes on to highlight the SJA's achievements from academic reforms, infrastructural overhaul, library upgrades, student functions and public relations. Only after an unprecedented physical representation of the SJA to the 53rd Executive Council meeting, the University had claimed 7.37 crore rupees grant from the UGC. The grant saw through the most sweeping infrastructural upgrade the University has received in over a decade - including the revamping of the classrooms, dining hall and the academic block, installation of new facilities in the hostels and creation of additional space for sports and recreational activities. The report also lists the numerous the changes the SJA brought about to boost transparency within the student body and increase the ease of life on campus. It also underscores the excellent public relations drive that the SJA initiated to boost the NUJS brand and reputation through its student website, social media handles, online alumni platforms and mobile application.
A major part of the report focuses on the 'administrative rinse' which underlines the SJA's continual efforts towards the removal of persisting irregularities within the University including the dismissal of the former Registrar, Dr. Surojit Mukhopadhyay, setting up of the University's first Review Commission, resignation of the former Vice-Chancellor, removal of CCTV cameras, gaining access to the buried URC report and its representations to the 104th Finance Committee meeting, 32nd Academic Council meeting and 52nd, 53rd, 60th and 61st Executive Council meetings (the original copy of all representations have been hyperlinked therein). The representations by the SJA not only give an insight into the past and ongoing challenges faced by the institution and its student body, but also provide a counter-narrative to the cynicism the University has been subjected to from various sections of the legal media and fractions within the faculty and staff. The representations to the 32nd Academic Council meeting for instance, gives the full story to the shutting down of the diploma courses run by the University - which was visibly opposed through media releases and writ petitions by the private partners associated with the same. Similarly, the representation to the 60th and 61st Executive Council meetings reveal the grounds of enquiry for the multiple investigation committees that have been constituted by the Council during its meeting in April and May, 2018. They also highlight how the centralised power stuctures of the National Law Universities (dependent primarily on the Vice Chancellor) can often lead to lack of proper accountability mechanisms and consequent irregularities.
A thorough reading of the report along with the relevant attachments and hyperlinks also brings about a clear picture about what lies ahead for the University in the coming days. "From a collective which was oppressed and whose voice was never heard to one that has made itself heard by every single decision-making body of the University in the recent past, the journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. While we cherish our success tonight, in our hearts we all know that the best is yet to come for NUJS!"