Does the dignity of the university exist yielding to the mobocracy?
The law is enacted to regulate the behaviors of diverse actors in society. Those who violate and break the law and order are punished and fined in order to maintain equality and peace. No one is above the law, and it is equally applicable to all irrespective of different roles and positions in the institutions. The law and order are dismantled when the leadership compromises with the obstinacy of the mob discriminating against the insiders. Mid-West University, founded in 2010, is one of Nepal's newest universities.Furthermore, regardless of ideological differences, the university leadership is expected to be a steward of the academic environment and autonomy.Notwithstanding the imagination, the opinion article attempts to portrait a gap between an ideal and practice based on a case at the School of Law at Mid-West University of Surkhet. There is naturally a harmonization between the ends and means to achieve the vision of advancement. If a holy end is accompanied by an unholy means, the dilemma will recur on the path to development. Thus, the unholy means cannot substantiate the holy ends in getting legitimacy and validity.
As the Executive Council of the University had conferred the responsibility of a Program Director on Upendra Bahadur BK on 10 Chaitra 2077 B.S., The director created an enabling environment in terms of maintaining transparency and honesty in the entrance examination of the BALLB five year program continuously based on the verdict of Surkhet High Court. It is better to mention that the result of the entrance examination of 2077 B.S. was quashed by the High Court ordering for re-entrance examination through maintenance of rules and regulations after hearing a writ petition filed by the students on 6 Baishak 2078 B.S.
In order to ensure quality, the mid-term and semester examinations were systematized following the exam rules and procedures of the University. Through continued collaboration with judges and legal experts, seminars and field level studies were integrated into teaching and learning activities. The institution's links and collaboration on clinical legal education and advocacy issues were expanded. The misbehaving students were warned and expelled to create an enabling environment for healthy learning. Such mobility irked interest groups of the students, who put pressure on the director to withdraw from the decision, smearing the prevailing rules and regulations of the University. As the University authority implicitly ignored the director's stance, it resultantly boosted the agitating mentality of the students against the management. The top leadership failed to protect teamwork.
The legal procedure outlines that the internal evaluation includes the 20/10 marks of the mid-term exam based on 3 and 1.5 credit hours respectively, 10 marks of project and presentation, the 5 marks of class attendance, and the 5 marks of discipline as evaluation criteria, amounting to 40 marks in total. In accordance with the procedure, the class attendance of the students must be accompanied by eighty percent of the classes. In case of failure to meet the standard of eighty percent, the students are ranked "not qualified" (NQ) by the subject wise faculties. The result of the Not Qualified students shall be withheld and it will be later removed by the Examinations Management Office on the recommendation of the concerned graduate school after the performance of the tasks assigned by the concerned teachers on the parameters.
The case is based on the publication of the results of the BALLB third, fifth and seventh semester results by the Mid-West University Examinations Management Office on 23 Magh 2079 B.S. The internal evaluation sheets were submitted to the Chief of the MU EMO by the Program Director of the School of Law on the recommendation of the relevant faculties. Prior to releasing the results, the Examination Management Committee, chaired by Professor Dr. Narayan Prasad Paudel, Registrar of the University, approved the internal evaluation sheets.
On the spur of the moment, a swarm of students entered the Program Director's office and began dealing with their results.As a Program Director, the director apprised the arrogant students of the procedure of internal assessment. They did not listen to his decency and moved towards sabotaging furniture and landline phone sets harboring derogatory words and mischiefs. In the blink of an eye, he gave an update to my Dean and the Police. The police came and my Dean of the Faculty of Law, Dr. Liladhar Tiwari, remained reluctant in terms of settling the undesirable situation. Even the security personnel, led by the Inspector, failed to deter the miscreants.The indifference of university authorities and the security to the chaos and hooliganism made him mentally and physically tortured from 9.30 A.M. to 9.30 P.M. The mob of undisciplined students reached a peak that the letterhead of the School of Law was captured and the Program Director was forced to tender a resignation and the resignation of Program Director was disseminated by forging his signature. The director called his Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr. Nanda Bhadur Singh, three times but received no response. Meanwhile, he responded to the calls made by Mahendra Shahi and Yubaraj Khadga who were leading to the mod of the infiltrated students when the director was around.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University framed an investigation committee ignoring a principle of estoppel that reveals a legal bar to alleging or denying a fact because of one's own previous actions or words to the contrary. What an intentional fact is that the investigation and negotiation committee reached an agreement with the so-called struggling students to get the Director to resign. During the negotiation, the chair and members were more interested in a director's resignation than in assisting students in understanding the rules and regulations of internal assessment. An issue of internal evaluation was only an external tooth of an elephant. Had the director employed the two VC recommended persons at School of Law, he would not have been removed from the existing responsibility. As the order of the VC was oral and beyond the process of employment within the university, he could not materialize the vertical order. He only followed the rules and regulations of the University but did not pay attention to the relatives of the authorities of the university. The law is applicable to all and relatives are privileged in violating the rules and procedures.
The removal of a Director from a position of responsibility is not an accident, but rather the result of prejudice and bias on the part of both the VC and the Dean.In an open and transparent society, the expectation of the patron-client relationships between the higher and lower ladders by the high level authorities of the University is one of the symptoms of deterioration. This kind of culture leads the stakeholders of the University to abhor peremptory commands. On the one hand, the faculties affiliated to the University will be leading to a humdrum life losing their freedom and the endeavors towards research and innovation will be buried yielding creative and critical minds to the whims and constraints. If the compromises keep on continuing, the mobocracy will be governing the university and a state of impunity will be round the corner. The academic autonomy will be going down in delta. J.D. Krushnamurti mentions that emotions or sensations are natural, healthy, and normal. But when though takes over, all mischief begins.
(B.K. is a former Director at School of Law at Mid-west University).