Mumbai law college imposes draconian dress code on students
From four-inch long sleeves, tops that flow seven-inches below the waist to shoes that cover every inch of the foot, Borivli's Nalanda College of Law has imposed a dress code on students that they call ‘Taliban-like’
Imagine going to a college where strict adherence to the rules would require a girl to measure her sleeves to ensure they are no less than four inches long and her top to see that it flows at least seven inches below her waist.
mid-day reporters posed as students seeking admission to the institute and asked if their tattoos would be a problem. An official said “rules must be followed”. Pics/Nimesh Dave
A college where she can’t wear footwear that doesn’t cover the entire foot and whose principal thinks students in t-shirts and jeans look like ‘taporis’. Now, imagine the impact not just on a batch of budding lawyers but on the entire judicial system if law education promotes such biases and such a limited view of what constitutes propriety.
mid-day reporters Shakti Shetty and Shreya Bhandary went to the college posing as students seeking admission. They asked administration officials whether their tattoos would be a problem and while most said the rules were only on paper, one said they may require the principal’s permission
A circular issued by Nalanda College of Law in Borivli (W), which prescribes these and other rules - including a ban on displaying body piercings and tattoos - as part of a dress code, has a section of the students up in arms.
Issued on October 10 - in a move it said was in furtherance of the college’s ‘penchant for disciplinarian education’ - the circular states that all students have to wear white shirts and black trousers, with boys wearing different coloured ties based on the year they are in.
“The circular was announced in our classes sometime in the third week of October and we were told that defaulters would be penalised. Nobody has been penalised for not wearing black and white clothes, but we have been strictly asked to not wear skirts or sleeveless tops in college,” said a first-year student, on condition of anonymity.
She added that most students are following the rules to avoid getting on the wrong side of the management and ending up with attendance forfeited, which is one of the punishments mentioned in the circular. “We used to freely wear skirts and sleeveless tops earlier but now we avoid doing so.
Even the boys who have tattoos are usually seen covering them up on campus. I’ve never heard of such a dress code in any other law college,” said another student.
mid-day on campus
Following complaints received from students against the college’s diktat, our reporters Shreya Bhandary and Shakti Shetty visited the campus on Friday. Posing as students seeking admission, the reporters asked various officials whether their tattoos would be a problem.
While some administration officials said the dress code is only on paper as of now, one official said, “Rules have been implemented by the principal to bring about discipline in college and they will obviously have to be followed by students. When you come for admission to our law course, you will be asked to meet the principal for his permission before doing so.”
Students told mid-day that a one-page circular was issued on October 10 highlighting that non-compliance of the rules would be treated as ‘disciplinary misconduct’ under the Code of Conduct and would attract penalties and punishment, including forfeiture of attendance.
When students allegedly protested against the “Taliban-like” rules, another circular was issued on October 15 stating that there will be no “military-like strictness” in implementing the dress code.
“We checked with other law colleges if such rules have been mandated by the institute or by the university, but found that no other college has such rules in place. All these changes have been implemented only after the new principal took over,” said a third-year student.
When mid-day reporters were waiting to meet the college principal, Pravin Singhal, he was busy reprimanding a student for not following the dress code of white shirt and black trousers, before reluctantly approving her hall ticket for the upcoming exams.
Asked about the new dress code, Singhal immediately said that the rules were all on paper. “The rules were introduced to bring about discipline in the college. This is a professional course and all colleges have dress codes for their students as to bring about uniformity in the college,” he said.
When Singhal was told that no other college has such strict dress codes in place, he repeated that the rules were only on paper as of now. “For the past few years, there has been no discipline in this college and I’m only doing what is legally right as the principal of this college.
Otherwise, these students wear t-shirts and jeans to a law college and look like taporis.” Singhal also said that the college had recently received a letter by the government stating that all colleges should follow rules as prescribed by the Maharashtra University Act, UGC, Bar Council and India and the state Bar Council.
When mid-day checked with Narayan Rajadhyaksha, a former member of the disciplinary committee for the University of Mumbai, he said that the university does not prescribe any dress code for students. “Colleges, however, can introduce rules as long as they don’t make students uncomfortable with the same. Some law colleges do have dress codes for certain days or occasions,” said Rajadhyaksha.
Rule of law?
The circular states: Students are not permitted to wear visible body adornments including earrings and display body piercing or tattoos. Lady students may only wear necklaces, finger rings and ear and nose adornments... Make up should be sober and unobtrusive. Translucent dresses are forbidden.
Dress should be comfortable and sufficiently loose to facilitate work without physical restraint. Lady students should wear tops with sleeves which should be minimum 4 inches and the top should be at least 7 inches below the waist. Men students must wear black polished shoes and ladies may wear black polished shoes or black sandals.
(Ladies may please insure (sic) that the shoes/sandals cover the foot completely). Please note that flipons (sic)/slippers/floaters are strictly prohibited.