HNLU Protests: Dr Sukh Pal Singh accedes to students' demand, steps down from VC post

Bar & Bench October 1 2018

A no-confidence motion, an ultimatumand a hunger strike later, student protesters at the Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU), Raipur have finally prompted Dr Sukh Pal Singh to step down from the post of Vice Chancellor.

Although no official intimation regarding his vacating the post has been made, Dr Singh confirmed the news to Bar & Bench.

Dr Singh’s 2014 term-extension as the administrative head of HNLU was quashed by the Chhattisgarh High Court last month. In his place, Ravishankar Sharma, Principal Secretary of the state Law Department, had been appointed as the interim VC.

However, on September 20, the Supreme Court directed that there would be an interim stay of the High Court’s judgment, in turn prompting Dr Singh’s return to the University.

This promptly sparked off student protests, which gained momentum as the weekend drew to a close. A no-confidence motion signed by over 800 students on Tuesday cited various grounds for demanding his ouster.

The allegations made by the students against Dr Sukh Pal Singh related to alleged financial irregularities, inaction against sexual harassment complaints, lack of transparency, suppressing student/student body interests, arbitrary hiring and firing of faculty, centralisation of administrative powers, and maladministration.

On Wednesday evening, the students submitted an ultimatum demanding that he step down from the post by Friday evening. On Saturday, student representatives are said to have met the University Chancellor, Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court Ajay Kumar Tripathi for a solution. Finally, on Sunday evening, the students decided to go on a hunger strike at the start of the week.

By the time student representatives commenced their hunger strike, Dr Sukh Pal Singh had issued three appeals imploring that the students halt their protest.  In the second appeal made yesterday, Dr Singh had also warned that the University would be shut down to restore normalcy if the students did not call off their protests.

Further, a 17-page reply was issued today by Dr Singh, presenting his defence to the allegations made against him. In his point by point counter, Dr Singh refuted any impropriety on his part.

However, these did little to dissuade the striking students. Further, the protests also continued to draw support from alumni, lawyers and other commentators.

The protest ultimately found its success on Day 7 and the same was informally announced by the Student Bar Association on Twitter on Monday evening.

Read VC Dr Sukh Pal Singh's Final Appeal to halt protests, dated October 1, 2018:

 

Appeal_dated 01.10.2018_bytheViceChancellorHNLUtoStudents