Court says all bodies/councils of the university must adhere to the minimum number of teaching days rule
Dr Sharmila Ghuge, associate professor, Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Vile Parle
A public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an associate professor of a law college before the Bombay High Court (HC) raising concerns about the streamlining of the admission process to avoid delays in commencement of the academic year for the LLB (3-year) and BLS/LLB (5-year) courses seems to have borne fruit.
Dr Sharmila Ghuge of Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Vile Parle, is concerned about flaws in the teaching system, wherein teachers are compelled to complete the law syllabus 45 days prior to the exams, instead of the mandatory qualitative teaching period of 90 days prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), Bar Council of India, Legal Education Rules, 2008, for the Bachelor of Law (LLB) programmes.
Dr Ghuge also highlighted the lack of response to her written representation addressed to the state chief secretary and commissioner, Common Entrance Tests (CET) Cell. mid-day had raised concerns in its article titled ‘Flaws in LLB admission process reducing no of teaching days’ dated March 25, highlighting the written representation made by her.
Earlier, Dr Ghuge had written to the authorities concerned, including the UGC and state government. She filed a PIL in the HC as she didn’t get any response after waiting for over a month. The division bench, comprising of Acting Chief Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne, passed an order in the first week of May before disposing of the PIL. Dr Ghuge had raised some vital issues in her PIL and was represented by advocate Shayam Dewani.
Delay in admission process by CET
The court observed that the schedule has been issued and hence revising it will not be possible; but in future, admissions must be completed on time. “After I filed the PIL, the state and CET Cell replied to my representation saying they will try to finish admission for the law stream by July this year,” Dr Ghuge said.
40-50-day semesters instead of 90 days as mandated
The court observed that all bodies/councils of the university must adhere to the number of teaching days rule. Dr Ghuge also raised concerns about Mumbai University issuing exam timetables at the last minute, leaving the teachers and students in confusion. “Ideally, the exam timetable should be issued a month before the exam date, but this doesn’t happen.
University officials are acting contrary to their own circular which says there should be 30 days prior intimation of exam dates,” she said, adding that students don’t get study leave and are forced to attend college to complete the syllabus up to a week prior to the exams. According to Dr Ghuge, Mumbai University’s law programmes need immediate attention, systematic planning and immaculate execution of terms, exams, internal tests, assessments, a study break for students, vacations for teachers/faculties, etc.
Dr U K Nambiar, principal of MCT Law College, Airoli, called the development a welcome move. “The HC has intervened in the matter at the right time. We have been demanding this change for a long time, but our plea was falling on deaf ears.” According to Dr Nambiar, the appointment of a new vice-chancellor for Mumbai University, which is expected at any moment, will also be of great help as he would be the authority in charge to address academic issues.
A senior faculty member said that since the start of CET in 2016, the admission process is delayed and students are suffering as it becomes impossible to adhere to the UGC guidelines. “The university has failed to bring this issue to the notice of the UGC, despite the faculties of law being vocal about it. The HC intervention in the PIL was the last resort.”
Meanwhile, UGC undersecretary B Ravi Narayanan responded to Dr Ghuge’s letter marked to UGC in February-end. In a letter dated April 19, he asked Vikas Chandra Rastogi, principal secretary, Directorate of Higher Education, to take appropriate action. Attempts made to contact Dr Anil Kumar Singh, associated dean of law, Mumbai University, did not yield any result.